Social change and romantic ideology: The impact of the publishing industry, family organization, and gender roles on the reception and interpretation of romance fiction in Taiwan, 1960-1990

Fang-Mei Lin, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This research uses romance fiction to examine the relationship between romantic love as an ideology and family change in Taiwan between 1960 and 1990. This study deals with three areas of inquiry. The first area analyzes the content and narrative structure of romance novels. The analysis reveals that in each of the three decades there was a different paradigm of romantic love: fatalism, family integration, and therapeutic self-development. The second area examines the dichotomy between high and popular culture as a power struggle between cultural producers and gatekeepers for symbolic legitimation. An institutional perspective is used to show how different sectors of the publishing industry in Taiwan have contributed to the differential prestige and success of various types of writers and literary works. When the publishing industry was dominated by small-scale, genteel publishers, romance fiction was excluded from the literary community. After the emergence of the cultural industry, romance fiction was incorporated into the literary community and became one of the many legitimate taste cultures. The third area deals with intellectuals' responses to romance fiction and how these affect the legitimacy of popular culture in general. From initial criticism to reluctant acceptance, the reception of romance fiction reflects the decline of hegemonic high culture and the emergence of cultural pluralism. This research addresses two central issues in the sociology of culture. The first concerns how to articulate society (that is, social structure, family organization, and historical periods) and culture (that is, ideas, values, and agencies). Groups of cultural producers and gatekeepers and the institutions to which they belong are posited as the linkage between society and culture. Second, the relative strength and weakness of institutional analysis, narrative studies, and reception theory are evaluated to address problems in formulating sociologically grounded methods of meaning and interpretation. Meaning is conceptualized as a process of social construction established and mobilized by various social groups for different purposes.

Subject Area

Sociology|Womens studies|Mass media|Cultural anthropology|Literature

Recommended Citation

Lin, Fang-Mei, "Social change and romantic ideology: The impact of the publishing industry, family organization, and gender roles on the reception and interpretation of romance fiction in Taiwan, 1960-1990" (1992). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9227710.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9227710

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