Propaganda visualizations of Chinese communist party in posters and magazine covers during 1989-2009

    Research output: ThesisMaster's thesis


    This research-based thesis is to discover the development of visualizations of political ideology and the utilization of visual language in contemporary Chinese propaganda posters and magazine covers during 1989-2009 (including 1989). The chosen set of poster cases contains posters that were published only by the party’s propaganda organs. The set of magazine cover cases contains a Chinese state-level magazine “China Pictorial” aimed for commercial circulation. It can be purchased by every Chinese citizen in book stores in China. In general, the author aims to discover how visual language is applied in political propaganda in two different media and to discover what kind of visual rhetoric is used in contemporary Chinese political propaganda.

    The author has applied content analysis, semiology and Marja Seliger’s visual rhetoric theory (2008) as research methods to conduct the visual research on 210 visual cases in total including both propaganda posters and covers of “China Pictorial”.

    Through the visual content analysis, the author finds out that there are three types of visual signs applied in research material. They are “iconic sign”, “indexical sign” and “symbolic sign”. Moreover, the author also discovers that the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda organ has applied different symbolic actions in posters and magazine covers to construct various visual arguments. These visual arguments can be concluded in five reflexive themes. The author finds out that the five themes are ‘China’s modernization’, ‘China’s technological progression and competence’, ‘the excellence of the Chinese Communist Party’, ‘happy Chinese people’ and ‘the glories of the socialist China’. In addition to that, the author discovers “brand rhetoric”, “personalized rhetoric” and “poetic rhetoric” in the five reflexive themes.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationMaster's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis


    • Chinese communist propaganda
    • Visual language
    • Content analysis
    • Semiology
    • Visual rhetoric


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