Organizational Construction or Individual’s Deed? The Literati Tradition in the Journalistic Professionalization in China

Fen J. Lin


This study examines how latent factors shape the complexity of localized professionalization in a transitional society. Analyzing interview and survey data of Chinese journalists, I abandon the conventional analysis which dichotomizes professionalization into western professionalism and authoritarian journalism. Indeed both normative ideal types are modified by the literati tradition. The study presents empirical evidence on the hierarchy of influences on coexistence of these three elements. The political nature of the media decides which element becomes dominant within an organization. At the individual level, laissez-faire economic values lead to positive views on western professionalism, while strong nationalism attitudes lead to positive views on party journalism. The complex value orientation on social and political issues associates a journalist with the literati tradition.

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