Open-Ended Analyses of the Sociopolitical Impact of Celebrity Change: Advantages, Operationalization, and an Illustration with Hong Kong Celebrity

Matthew M. Chew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This study contributes to advancing research on a central problem in the sociology of celebrity: the sociopolitical impact of celebrity change. The paper argues for the need for more open-ended analyses of the sociopolitical impact of contemporary celebrity change. These analyses utilize non-Western data, avoid techno-determinism, prioritize questions of why and how celebrity becomes progressive over monolithic assessments, and emphasize the investigation of celebrity’s institutional and political contexts. It also supplies a partial solution to operationalize such analyses: focusing on whether and how a given celebrity system is becoming more (or less) democratized. Then it tests this solution by using it to examine Hong Kong celebrity change in the 2000s. My data sources include in-depth interviews of 32 celebrities and industry insiders, participant observation, informal interviews, audiences’ online discourses, and documentary materials. I find that Hong Kong celebrity became less democratized and that it was de-democratized by six institutional changes: corporate suppression of media-assisted paths of celebrity-making, corporate corruption of fame reward systems, ‘new ascribed celebrities,’ corporate appropriation of celebrity news media, and the state’s interference of celebrity. My findings demonstrate the utility of open-ended analyses and my partial solution for operationalizing them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-580
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Forum
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • cultural sociology
  • democratization of celebrity
  • Hong Kong
  • popular culture
  • social change
  • sociology of celebrity

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