Doing Discourse Research in Chinese Studies: Methodological Reflections on the Basis of Studying Green Consumption and Population Policy

  • Franziska Fröhlich (Autor/in)
  • Björn Alpermann (Autor/in)


As Chinese Studies and other Area Studies have become increasingly sophisticated
in the methodologies they use, more in-depth discussions on researchers’ discourseanalytic practices seem desirable. This article is thus a methodological reflection,
coming as part of the authors’ own ongoing research projects. It describes some of
the characteristic ways in which discourse fields in the Chinese context are
structured, as well as the underlying rules at work. Specifically, discourses in China
are politically constrained through “soft steering under the shadow of hierarchy,”
structured in a top-down manner through the “follow the leader imperative,” and
bloated due to a bandwagon effect. It is argued that these specificities of the Chinese
discourse context pose a challenge for researchers doing discourse research on the
country. The article therefore offers examples from two research projects on green
consumption and eco-motivated diets and on population policy in China so as to
present the strategies that the authors have applied in their own research to deal with
such challenges.


discourse analysis, discourse research, sociology of knowledge approach to discourse analysis (SKAD), Chinese Studies, green consumption, food consumption, population policy