From Cultural Revolution to cultural consumption: forming a contemporary identity through Shanghai Symphony

Mengyu Luo, John Tebbutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The formation of a Chinese identity through symphonic music is an indispensable part of the overall cultural landscape in China. This article takes the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra – the oldest symphony orchestra in Asia – as a case study to examine the formation of a contemporary identity in China’s cultural field, especially after the ten-year Cultural Revolution. Identity is a complicated and fluid concept for it concerns both individual and collective, and moreover, it is a concept that needs to be negotiated and communicated in spatial and temporal dimensions. This new Chinese identity formed through symphonic music not only involves the tension between local Chinese culture and Western bourgeois culture but also triggers argument with regards to the past, present and future Chinese self. The identity is also formed and confirmed through cultural consumption of symphonic music, a form of cultural capital which later defines social classes. Musical production at Shanghai Symphony Orchestra also affords identity formation and acts of cultural consumption. Materials collected from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Archive are used to illustrate the process of identity formation and relevant issues. The concept of cultural capital is also applied to address some of the examples that illustrate how contemporary identity is formed via symphonic music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-368
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
  • archival research
  • cultural capital
  • cultural consumption
  • identity
  • music history

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