Chinese subtitle groups and the neoliberal work Ethic

Kelly Hu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article explore the ways in which Chinese online subtitle activities construct multi-layered cultural geography, converge the transnational flows of images, activate the transformation of technological forms of life (from living room TV to computer with the Internet access), and collect online Chinese fan groups to plug into the unauthorized information technology, and be engaged with affective/immaterial/free labor. This study found that the techniques of competition and performance, self-training and self-enhancement, self-interest and self-benefit, calculable ratioanality and self-government in neoliberal society are skillfully incorporated into the work ethic of Chinese subtitle groups. Through the combination between the neoliberal work ethic and non-commercial altruism, a new specific kind of labor value is invented, which challenges capitalist commercial purpose is a necessary condition for neoliberalism. Finally, this research proposes that the fansub cultural phenomenon should be contextually comprehended through the lens of 'the labor competition due to China's huge population' and 'China's positioning and production value in a global production system. The neoliberal competition among Chinese subtitle groups are intimately associated with the rise of China in a global market, which triggers the nationalist thirst for progress and the desires to keep updated with globalized fashionable consumption and modernity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-214
Number of pages38
JournalMass Communication Research
Issue number101
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Oct


  • Chinese subtitle groups
  • Free labor
  • Global production system
  • Immaterial labor
  • Information economy
  • Neoliberal work ethic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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