Counselling Marriage and Love through Live-streaming in China: Douyin, Relationship Counsellor and the Affective Public

Zhen Ye, Qian Huang

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Throughout modern Chinese history, media have been playing active roles in producing and shaping relationship-related values and practices. In particular, intimate relationship and marriage counselling has been taken up as a popular topic in various media formats, evolving alongside the development of media technologies from radio and television to social media posts. Recent years have witnessed the rise and fall of self-proclaimed emotional counsellors, such as Mimeng and Ayawawa, who relied on social media platforms to produce and monetise content related to a successology for women in romantic relationships. The popularity of these influencers demonstrates the intriguing dynamics between platform economy and gender norms in China. Exploring relationship counselling practices on social media platform Douyin, this research uses a self-proclaimed relationship counsellor, Xianjing, as a case study. We situate Xianjing’s relationship counselling practices within Douyin’s socio-technological environment, attending to both her discursive strategies as well as her engagement with followers and Douyin’s affordances. By analysing her live-streaming practices, we reveal how Xianjing builds affective connection with her followers, who are mainly marginalised, older women living in rural areas, and discursively rebrands their subordinate position in marriages as a natural result of traditional virtues. In addition, the commercial affordance of live-streaming enables Xianjing to monetise her followers’ intimate feelings and affective attachments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentities and Intimacies on Social Media
Subtitle of host publicationTransnational Perspectives
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003250982
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

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