Should international K-pop fans support the group Blackpink after they used sacred elements of Hindu culture in a music video? Is it ok for Kiwi K-pop fans to use Korean words and slang terms?
In an era of heightened sensitivity to criticisms of cultural appropriation, international K-pop fans are questioning how they use Korean culture—and elements of other cultures—in the form of K-pop.
The different ways fans adjust their consumption of K-pop in relation to their experiences and understanding of cultural appropriation and appreciation is explored in a recently published paper titled “Between Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation: Self-Authorizing the Consumption of Cultural Difference.”
The paper, published in Journal of Consumer Researchstems from a six-year research project by marketing experts Associate Professor Yuri Seo (University of Auckland), Senior Lecturer Angela Cruz (Monash University) and Professor Daiane Scaraboto (University of Melbourne).
Cruz, Scaraboto, and Seo conducted an extensive study between 2017 and 2022, collecting data from multiple sources, including in-depth interviews with non-Korean K-pop consumers as well as from online forums, websites, social media platforms and news media.
“We found that many international K-pop fans are extending conversations about cultural appropriation in relation to what cultural differences they use in K-pop,” Seo said. .
“When consumers talk about cultural appropriation, we hear and read discussions about how K-pop artists appropriate content from other cultures, how it can be insensitive, and whether how do fans feel about consuming products that are primarily appropriate for other cultures.”
International K-pop fans reflect on what it means to enjoy the cultural diversity of K-pop music styles, choreography, and fashion concepts, such as hip-hop, R&B, and dreadlocks, that come from cultures that are historically isolated.
Fans also consider how they, as non-Koreans, can express their love for K-pop given the long history of racialized discourses that fetishize Asian bodies and culture.
“There is a change in terms of social discourse on how we view the consumption of other cultures and there are many discussions about where to draw the line between praising K-pop and consuming Korean culture, ” said Seo.
“We found that K-pop consumers are becoming more aware and responsible for the consumption choices they make in relation to cultural differences.”
The researchers’ interviews explored in detail what the terms ‘Koreaboo’ (usually defined as a non-Korean person who is fascinated by Korean culture) and ‘cultural appropriation’ mean to the participants and how these ideas shape their consumption of K-pop.
“As we read the threads and posts, we focused on the ones most relevant to understanding the important issues for international consumers of K-pop. In these discussions, the term cultural appropriation is often used ,” say the authors.
Their analysis led them to identify four strategies international fans of Korean pop used to give themselves permission, or self-authorization, to continue using cultural differences through K- pop despite internal and external tensions.
The four strategies described in the study are reform, recontextualize, control and rationalize, and K-pop consumers fall under one or more categories.
For example, when fans participate in reform, says Seo, they often highlight the harms of cultural appropriation as it applies to their consumption of cultural difference and position themselves as activists. fueled by concern for their favorite groups.
A Reddit user who falls into this category wrote in a thread:
“From a personal experience, I decided for myself that I will still enjoy K-pop content AND speak out about the things they are doing wrong (cultural appropriation, sexism, colorism, unfair treatment of artists etc.).”
Ultimately, says Seo, the purpose of consumer self-authorization is to resolve tension at the individual level rather than to radically dismantle the structures and systemic inequalities that continue to disadvantage people of color and from developing countries.
“In an era of heightened sensitivity to critiques of cultural appropriation, our work offers timely insights into how consumers manage their consumption of cultural difference.”
Angela Gracia B Cruz et al, Between Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation: Self-Authorizing the Consumption of Cultural Difference, Journal of Consumer Research (2023). DOI: 10.1093/jcr/ucad022
Provided by the University of Auckland
Citation: K-pop and the consumption culture (2023, July 13) retrieved 14 July 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-k-pop-consumption-culture.html
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