Lifestyle culture and social transformation in Asia

MIA coverA special issue of Media International Australia (May 2013) co-edited by Tania Lewis (RMIT), Fran Martin (University of Melbourne) and John Sinclair (University of Melbourne)

If there is one trend that could be said to characterise Asian late modernities, it is the shared experience of hyper-accelerated social, cultural and economic transformation. Consumer culture is playing an increasing role in countries once dominated by socialism. Neoliberal economic and social policies are increasingly being adopted by authoritarian statist regimes, with liberalization processes restructuring national economies and, to varying degrees, transforming state structures. More and more, governments in Asia are addressing their citizens as individualised, sovereign consumers with reflexive ‘choices’ about their lifestyles and identities. One of the correlates of these processes of (neo)liberalisation has been the emergence of new formations of consumption-oriented middle classes with lifestyle aspirations that are shaped by national, regional and global influences. How are everyday conceptions and experiences of identity and citizenship being transformed by emerging and rearticulated cultures of modernity across the region?

This issue will examine the growing role of lifestyle media and culture in Asia, drawing upon the insights of existing research on lifestyle culture and consumption but extending its focus by relocating such concerns within the context of Asia and within a trans-national comparative frame, thus shifting the study of lifestyle away from the Western-centric approach that has dominated the field to date.