American Culture Studies Ph.D. Dissertations


Whose Voice?: A Critical Analysis of Identity, Media, and Popular Music in The Voice of China

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Culture Studies

First Advisor

Alberto González (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Angela Ahlgren (Other)

Third Advisor

Katherine Meizel (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Becca Cragin (Committee Member)


This manuscript explores the relationships among identity, media, and popular music in Chinese society through an examination of a televised singing competition franchise, The Voice of China. I attempt to understand what role popular culture, in the form of a contemporary popular cultural product, plays in Chinese people's everyday life and how the show is a site where Chinese people articulate, interrogate and negotiate aspects of identity. I provide a textual analysis to interpret the meaningful details of each episode while employing a critical-cultural approach to understand the socio-historical contexts and the online discourse that are conducive to the uniqueness of the international franchise. More specifically, I examine how societal discourses on the blind audition and the voting systems of the show reveal growing public awareness of and concern with issues of equity and fairness in the cultural arena of traditional aesthetic standards as well as the societal arena of electoral politics. I also explore how the show reinforces the ruling Party's appropriations of nationalism in a sophisticated way to highlight a unified and supreme national voice, how it reflects both a loosening grip of the central government on gender representation and a growing social leniency toward gender diversity, and finally how the voice diversity was constructed by individuals who are in possession of or in need of various forms of social capital and who are from geographically diverse and economically disparate social backgrounds. I point out that The Voice of China offers a prime site to understand how the discourses of politics, (trans)nationality, ethnicity, gender, and class intersect with each other in the situated context and hopefully, such a discussion can raise the cultural awareness to challenge institutional power and social norms in order to hear the diversified voices in Chinese society.