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Cultural transformations in the Micro Era

Author  :  YANG YUJING     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2016-12-21

Culture and Arts in the Micro Era

Writer: Wang Minan et al.

Publisher: China Social Sciences Press

The Micro Era in the book refers to the social context in which microblogs, micro movies, micro fictions and other forms of mass media and art have gone viral through the Internet, laptops and smart phones.

A collection of essays, Culture and Arts in the Micro Era is divided into four parts: culture and literature, film and television art, media and society, as well as daily life, each having a distinct set of interests. But the authors mostly start from eyecatching phenomena and use them to explore the truth and reveal themes of social isolation and alienation, power, survival dilemmas and the progress of democracy and deconstruction of authority.

Scholars mainly focus on three themes in the collection: microblogs and political participation, Wechat’s impacts on consumption and life, and the current situation as well as limitations of short films. In addition, more cultural topics in the micro era are discussed, including Internet rumors, online talk shows and micro fictions. An article in the book even discusses the elderly who have been marginalized in the micro era, so it also raises another question of how China’s rural areas with a population of 900 million will develop in the micro era. The topic is important and worthy of investigation because there has been little research in this area.

These inclusive research subjects not only show academic attitudes of scholars facing the reality and key topics in the micro era, but also show that the dramatic changes reflect their confusion and concerns. For example, some scholars pointed out that people have become more isolated in the micro era and they are gradually losing the ability of reflection and rationality alongside strengthened state power, a widening gap between rich and poor, youth unemployment and other social problems.

Of course, any new tide cannot be completely negative. A lot of advantages of the micro era can be found. For example, a paper titled “Subversion and Reconstruction: Postmodern Aesthetic Symptoms in Micro-era” in the book stated that the micro era can deconstruct truth, regain sensibility and liberate the body as well as desire, paving the way for liberation of human nature, social democracy and artistic freedom.

The micro era also provides platforms for the public to express their opinions, and guarantees their right to participate in public affairs, which has the potential to increase public’s awareness of democracy and to push ahead with social reforms, as well as reconstruct public rationality and the social contract. The aforementioned goal is the ideal we are striving to achieve in the micro era and the future we are expecting to embrace.

No matter how proud scholars are of strengths of the micro era and no matter what kind of concerns they have, we should notice that they all examine the era in the postmodern context, because consumption, diversity, decentralization, and fragmentation these characteristics of postmodernism have been widely used and be considered as the most appropriate words to interpret the micro era. But postmodernism cannot fully describe all of reality, so new challenges are being posed in studying the micro era.

Editor: Yu Hui

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