Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Marc Moskowitz


Using contemporary Beijing’s alternative music scenes as a focal point, this ethnographic research seeks to enrich the understanding of China’s post-socialist urban youth by examining their cultural practices. First, this thesis offers an analytical account of the popularizing embrace of “independent cultures,” which is defined as a collection of experienceable objects and activities in musical, filmic, theatric, and other cultural forms that are well recognized yet believed by advocates as having aesthetic and participatory features that are different from those produced in the popular culture industry. While the vogue for independent cultures is substantially conditioned by the socioeconomic attributes of China’s post-socialist reform, it also involves a set of generation-specific attempts to articulate the unstructured and incongruous aspects of such seemingly consistent social transformations. Second, the thesis investigates the current popularity of independent music by examining how such music is (re)produced through social interactions. Specifically, it examines how language plays an important role in the functioning of different kinds of “music ideologies,” which is defined as a set of beliefs, feelings, and reflexive understandings of music that guide related cultural practices and produce new practitioners. By comparing the differing ways in which the specificities in the live performances of rock-based independent music and experimental music are textually mediated to the public under the influence of certain music ideologies, this thesis shows that musical genres are reproduced not only through musicality, but also the related forms of sociality encouraged in different music ideologies.


© 2014, Shan Huang

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