The “Affective Alliance”: Undercover, Internet Media
Fandom, and the Sociality of Cultural
Consumption in Postsocialist China

By Shuyu Kong

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 24, no. 1 (Spring 2012), pp. 1-47

The essay examines the role of the new social media space of the Internet in contemporary China through an ethnographic, viewer-oriented study of Internet media fandom surrounding the 2008 TV spy drama Undercover (Qianfu). Utilizing analytical tools from Lawrence Grossberg’s concept of “affect” and Henry Jenkins’ theory of active fandom, this “virtual ethnographical” study unearths concrete evidence of a new interactive and communicative social space where certain media texts, such as popular TV dramas and films, have become “links” bringing together people from various walks of life with no geographical boundaries and acting as a catalyst for them to share their creative energy and debates on meanings and values within and beyond the media texts. The author contends that Chinese popular culture is witnessing an increasingly participatory environment where ordinary consumers are able to reconfigure their social identities and reconstruct their social networks through consuming and creatively re-producing media texts.