Comparative study of youth culture in the context of globalization : a content analysis of teenage magazines in Germany and China (1995 vs. 2005)

  • Vergleichsstudie der Jugendkultur im Kontext der Globalisierung : eine Inhaltsanalyse von jugendlichen Zeitschriften in Deutschland und China (1995 vs. 2005)

Li, Xiubo; Hammerich, Kurt (Thesis advisor); Ellrich, Lutz (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2015)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2015


How has the globalization been influencing the youth culture in the sense of "everyday talk", which is represented by the form of mass media for youth? In which direction are the changes and trends of modern youth culture leading to? In order to find out a proper answer to this researching question, the comparative study of youth culture between east and west has been conducted in this thesis through the content analysis of the sample youth magazines published in Germany and China in 2005 compared with those in 1995 as two time points for analyzing possible changes. This procedure is based on the presumption that these two time points are characterized by typical elements of time spirit. The comparison refers mainly to the following three aspects: original changes, thematic differences, as well as words and designs. An overview of the context of this study, the globalizing (post) modern society, has been briefly depicted as the first step towards a better understanding of the whole picture in which the researching question is embedded. Next, the historical backgrounds and development of youth culture in West and East are introduced and compared in the third chapter, so as to figure out the outline of the differences and similarities of the two types of youth culture. Concerning the great influence of the modern media environment around the youth in West and East, the followed chapter deals with the description, analysis and existed theories about youth related media and their influences upon their young receivers. The youth magazines which would be selected as sample magazines of this study and their impact are also examined respectively in the later part of the chapter. In the methodology chapter, an overview about the method of content analysis, including historical development, definitions, applications as well as limitations, has been done, before the detailed steps and hypotheses of this study are put forward. One of the most important initial steps of the researching method design is to set forth certain relevant hypotheses, which are drawn partly through the reading of sample contents, partly through the existed literature of such kind of analysis. After that, the universe of the content analysis in this thesis is defined. Within this universe a method of multistage sampling was used to take a sampling of content sources. Two youth magazines with different circulations and themes as representative form of youth media in both countries were selected respectively as samples: Bravo (BV) and Yps mit Gimmiks (YG) are the most famous and representative youth magazines from the western side, while Boys & Girls (BG) and Juvenile Science Pictorial (JSP) are the Chinese counterparts. Once the sources have been identified, the dates of sample issues were selected randomly. A final sample of 24 issues of Bravo, Boys & Girls, and JPS as well as 16 issues of Yps, which makes a total of 88 issues were yield. The results of analysis disclose that most of the hypotheses about the changes and developments during the decade are generally concluded in a correct direction. Firstly, in the aspect of original changes, we find out that although the frequencies of international items in the issues from all the sample magazines only have a slight increasing tendency during the decade, which cannot strongly in the whole range support the prediction stated by the first hypothesis of this analysis, yet it shows at least the predicted changing direction of the international items. In the aspect of thematic differences and changes, we can obviously observe that both Chinese magazines retain much more education-oriented items than their German counterparts. The sharp contrast is especially presented in the case of the JSP vs. YG, where education-oriented items in JSP are dominating and entertainment-oriented items in YG dominating. Finally, in the aspect of words and designs, we discover that the changes of the usage of international words in the titles of all the 4 sample magazines support, in different degrees, the hypothesis which supposes an increasing tendency of the appearance of international words including coinage words which are popular among teenagers. Despite the slight changes happened to the covers of Bravo and Yps, we can still discern a similar tendency of the changes of non-verbal elements of the magazines, namely the covers, in both countries. As an important and completing part of this study, a report of the validity and reliability of the researching method has been conducted. In a general way, we can say that there are similar changing and developing tendencies of youth cultures in many aspects in the east and west. These tendencies might lead to certain danger of the universalization in the future development of youth culture within the context of globalization, yet the hybridization of youth culture of the local level and that of the regional or the global level seems to display variety and diversity in a large degree. In the future further research about the comparison of youth culture in different social and cultural contexts could be conducted through internet ethnographic studies, due to the instantaneity and interactivity of internet, especially the web 2.0, so as to expand our collective understanding of this research topic. The actual ideas and feedback from the youth are available through the observation of the virtual world where the youth show up, utter their opinions, communicate with each other, entertain themselves or with each other as well as consume, which could support or respond to the findings and results of content analysis of youth media. Another important point is that youth, as subjects, are getting more often to create their individual and original culture as well as various counter- or sub-cultures through the platform of network. Probing into this interactive and self-constructing media environment around youth to get an insight of the latest developing tendencies of different youth culture through out the world, as well as the reasons and drives behind these developments, could be an exciting and provoking project as the next researching steps in this specific researching field.