Dr. Tommy Tse is an Assistant Professor in the Television and Cross-Media Culture (TVCMC) program at the Media Studies Department, University of Amsterdam. He is also affiliated with the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). He specialises in East Asia’s media and cultural industries, creative labour, consumer culture and sociology of fashion.
Tse completed his Bachelor of Arts (hon) degree in Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong, followed by his MPhil study in Gender, Literature and Film in the same department. After graduation, Tse first worked in various media and creative companies, including Art Map Ltd., ADO and TBWA\ (4As ad agency), and then decided to pursue a PhD degree at the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong, conducting ethnographic research on the intricate production and mediation of fashion as a symbolic and cultural product in and through various institutions in Hong Kong and across Asia.
Before joining UvA, Tse taught at five different institutions: the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong; School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University; Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London; the Culture and Media Domain, HKU SPACE CC; and Hong Kong Design Institute. Over the years, Tse also worked as a project-based copywriter for various global fashion, luxury and pharmaceutical brands.
In 2015, Tse was the Visiting Scholar at the National Center for Radio and Television Studies, Communication University of China, Beijing, and at the Fashion Institute of Design, Donghua University, Shanghai. Among hundreds of applicants around the world, Tse was shortlisted as one of the 30 "Dreamers" participating in the Alibaba Global Dreamers Programme in Hangzhou, China in Summer 2018. In Fall 2018, he was a Visiting Scholar/Research Associate at University College London (Anthropology Department) and London College of Fashion (Social and Cultural Studies). He is an elected member of the Amsterdam Young Academy (2020 - 2022), and he also serves the Editorial Board of Fashion, Style and Popular Culture (2021 – 2023; SJR Q2 in Cultural Studies), International Journal of Fashion Studies (2021 – 2023; SJR Q1 in Cultural Studies) and Work, Employment and Society (2021 – 2024; ABS4* ranked journal of the British Sociological Association). His work has appeared in Information, Communication and Society (Taylor & Francis), International Journal of Fashion Studies (Intellect), Journal of Consumer Culture (Sage), Journal of Cultural Economy (Taylor & Francis), and Sociology (Sage), in addition to his co-authored book Celebrity Culture and the Entertainment Industry in Asia: Use of Celebrity and Its Influence on Society, Culture and Communication (Intellect Books).
My scholarship has focused on three intertwined areas which are prominent in media and cultural studies, namely (i) cultural production and mediation, (ii) creative labour studies and (iii) consumer culture. As a practitioner-turned-sociologist, I have extended the traditional research agenda by bringing together the seemingly disparate worlds of culture and commerce and theorising their convergence in the globally surging cultural and creative industries. My sociological study of cultural economy originally and distinctively reforms and refines core social theory to illuminate how divergent types of “cultural professionals” systematically co-create, commercialize and mediate cultural goods in contemporary East Asian societies, (re)shaping our sense of value, social relations and meanings of life in unprecedented ways. In particular, my research unpacks and conceptualises the nuances and contradictions behind the meteoric rise of Korea’s and China’s creative industries and popular culture.
As an insider-ethnographer, I have extended the research agenda to the intricate inner working of cultural production and generally “hard-to-reach” cultural producers/labourers, providing a distinctive conceptual understanding of their social lives and the new meanings of creative labour through “walking their walks, talking their talks”. Over the years I gained rare access to the fashion, advertising, media and entertainment sectors in Hong Kong, China and Korea and conducted interviews with over 170 creative industry professionals. The sociocultural specificity of my research fills a significant research gap between theory and practice of the predominantly ‘Western-centric’ studies of cultural production, mediation and consumption. Through rethinking the social and cultural milieus of East Asia in a global context, my research program reconceptualises key sociological theories that have been primarily developed from Euro-American experiences (e.g. Pierre Bourdieu’s “cultural intermediaries”; George Ritzer’s “prosumption”) and facilitates intellectual dialogues in a global, “ex-centric” perspective.
In terms of my future research plan, building on my strong, focused research program in Hong Kong, China and Korea, I shall expand my multi-sited ethnography to cover the cultural economies of and the transnational cultural flows between other countries located in the Global South (the “South-South interactions”), including Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa. Another line of research enquiry would be the investigation of how urbanization, technology and the rise of sharing/gig economy change the nature of work and workers’ wellbeing in cities across the global North and South.
Peer-reviewed journal articles
Tse, T., Shin, V. & Tsang, L.T. (2020). “From Shanzhai chic to Gangnam style: Seven practices of cultural-economic mediation in China and Korea”, Journal of Cultural Economy (Taylor & Francis), 13(5): 511–530. https://doi.org/10.1080/17530350.2020.1719867
Pun, N., Tse, T., Shin, V. & Fan, L.L. (2020). “Conceptualising socio-economic formations of labourand workers’ power in global production networks”, Sociology (Sage), 54(4): 745–762. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038520908779
Shin, V., Tsang, L.T. & Tse, T. (2020). “Bridging structural and micro-level factors in cultural labour studies: A multilevel analysis of performing arts administration professionals in Hong Kong”, Social Transformations in Chinese Societies (the official journal of The Hong Kong Sociological Association): 16(1): 15–37. https://doi.org/10.1108/STICS-03-2019-0007
Iaquinto, B., Kim, J.E., Serban, F. and Tse, T. (2019). “Worlds of work: Implications of urbanisation, technology and sustainability”, The International Sociological Association E-Symposium (Sage), 9(3): 1–6.
Tse, T. (2019). “Chinese styles in pluralities: Destabilising the Western-centric fashion discourse in ‘multiple China(s)’ [Book review: Fashion in Multiple Chinas: Chinese Styles in the Transglobal Landscape (by Wessie Ling and Simona Segre-Reinach, 2018)]”. China Quarterly. [ISSN: 0305-7410]
Tse, T. & Tsang, L.T. (2018, online first). “Reconceptualising prosumption beyond the ‘cultural turn’: Passive fashion prosumption in Korea and China”, Journal of Consumer Culture (Sage). https://doi.org/10.1177/1469540518804300
Tse, T., Leung, V., Cheng, K. & Chan, J. (2018). “A clown, a political messiah or a punching bag? Rethinking the performative identity construction of celebrity through social media”, Global Media and China (Sage), 3(3): 141–157. https://doi.org/10.1177/2059436418805540
Leung, V., Cheng, K. & Tse, T. (2018), “Insiders’ views: The current practice of using celebrities in marketing communications in Greater China”, Intercultural Communications Studies. 27(1): 96–113. [ISSN: 1057-7769]
Pun, N., Tse, T. & Ng, K. (2017). “Challenging digital capitalism: SACOM’s campaigns against Apple and Foxconn as monopoly capital”, Information, Communication and Society (Taylor & Francis), 22(9): 1253–1268. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1414290
Chan, K., Tse, T., Tam, D. & Huang, A. (2016). “Perception of healthy and unhealthy food among Chinese adolescents”, Young Consumers. 17(1): 32–45. [ISSN: 1747-3616]
Tse, T. (2016). “Consistent inconsistency of fashion magazines and the socialization of fashionability in Hong Kong”, The Journal of Business Anthropology (CBS), 5(1): 154–179. https://doi.org/10.22439/jba.v5i1.5221
Tse, T. (2016). “Four myths of fashion—An ethnographic research on the fashion media industry in Hong Kong & China”, International Sociological Association E-Symposium (Sage), 6(1): 1-16. https://www.isaportal.org/resources/resource/four-myths-of-fashion/
Tse, T. (2015). “Two different tales of fashion media industry development in Mainland China and Hong Kong”, Clothing Cultures (Intellect), 2(3): 257–274. https://doi.org/10.1386/cc.2.3.257_1
Tse, T. (2015). “An ethnographic study of glocal fashion communication in Hong Kong and Greater China”, International Journal of Fashion Studies (Intellect), 2(2): 245–266. https://doi.org/10.1386/infs.2.2.245_1
Tse, T. (2014). “Fashion media communication in Hong Kong”, International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education (Taylor & Francis), 7(2): 66–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/17543266.2014.921244
Tse, T. (2014), “Negotiations between fashion marketers and journalists in Asia”, Asian Journal of Business Research. 4(1): 30–42. [ISSN: 1178-8933]
Leung, V., Tse, T. & Cheng, K. (2017), Celebrity Culture and the Entertainment Industry in Asia: Use of Celebrity and Its Influence on Society, Culture and Communication. Bristol, UK: Intellect.
Book chapters (selected)
Tse, T. & Lam, G. (2021, forthcoming). “KPI-chasers, content farmers and ‘slashers’: New challenges to Hong Kong fashion journalists in the digital age” in Insights on Fashion Journalism. Edited by Rosie Findlay and Johannes Reponen, London, UK: Taylor & Francis.
Tse, T. & Tsang, L.T. (2020). “Reconceptualising prosumption beyond the ‘cultural turn’: Passive fashion prosumption in Korea and China” (reprinted) in Fashion Theory: A Reader (2nd edition). Edited by Malcom Barnard. Oxon, UK; New York, USA: Routledge.
Tse, T. & Tsang, L.T. (2017). “From Clicks-and-Bricks to Online-to-Offline: The Evolving E-tail/Retail Space as Immersive Media in Hong Kong and Mainland China” in Retail Design: Theoretical Perspectives. Edited by Anthony Kent & Ann Petermans, Oxford, UK: Routledge, 87–113.
Tse, T. (2015), “Beyond Freudian narcissism and the cowboy myth” in Ways of Queering, Ways of Seeing, Edited by Jo Grzelinska & Jill Cox, Oxford, United Kingdom: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 205-224.
Tse, T. & Wright, L.T. (2014). “Luxury brands and deriving fashion meanings in a media context in Hong Kong” in Luxury Brands in Emerging Markets. Edited by Glyn Atwal and Douglas Bryson, London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 155–165.
Tse, T. (2014). “Fashion communication in Asia: Participant observation and qualitative interview with media personnel at MILK X Monthly” in Fashion and Its Multi-Cultural Facets. Edited by Patricia Hunt-Hurst & Sabrina Ramsamy-Iranah, Oxford, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 221–232.
Completed and ongoing competitive research grant projects
2020–2021 PI, De-Westernising Fashion: An Ex-centric Perspective on Creativity, Authenticity, Cultural Mediation, and Consumer Agency along Chinese-African Fashion Value Chains. HKU Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research. (Co-I: Dr. Sérgio Inácio Chichava [Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Economicos (IESE), Maputo], Dr. Jacqueline Kisato [Kenyatta University], Prof. Charles Nzioka [University of Nairobi] and Dr. Nina Sylvanus [Northeastern University]).
2020–2021 PI, Migrant Integration in China, Vietnam and Myanmar: Case Studies and Experience Exchange. Oxfam Hong Kong/China Project Fund. (Co-I: Prof. Pun Ngai and Dr. Debby Sze-Wan Chan [University of Hong Kong].
2019 Co-I, Creative Workers Participated in 2019 Hong Kong Protests: A Critical Investigation of the Causes, Motivations and Relations between Socio-Economic Factors and Political Participation. Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (PPR). (PI: Prof. Pun Ngai [University of Hong Kong]; Co-I: Prof. Jack Qiu [Chinese University of Hong Kong])
2019–2020 PI, Working in/out the Automated ‘Smart’ Cities: A Comparative Study of Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese Media Professionals’ Psychological Wellbeing. HKU Faculty of Social Sciences Strategic Research Clusters Seed Funding. (Co-I: Dr. Christian Chan, Dr. Byrant Hui, Dr. Li-Fung Cho [University of Hong Kong] and Dr. Yimei Zhu [University of Leicester])
2018–2019 PI, Food for Thought, Food for Globe – Reduction of Meat Consumption in Hong Kong’s Schools. HKU Knowledge Exchange Project Fund. (Co-I: Dr. Carmen Tong [Sociology, HKU]; Dr. Christelle Not [Earth Sciences, HKU]).
2017 PI, Cultural/Creative Labour and ‘Neo-Precarity’: Emerging Challenges and Responses of Precarious Workers in Chinese Cultural and Creative Industries. HKU Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research. (Co-I: Prof. Anthony Fung [Chinese University of Hong Kong] and Prof. Chris Smith [Royal Holloway, University of London])
2017–2018 PI, Green a Difference – Reduction of Animal Consumption in Hong Kong. HKU Knowledge Exchange Project Fund. (Co-I: Dr. Carmen Tong [Sociology, HKU]; collaborating partner: Green Monday Hong Kong).
2017–2018 Co-I, Sustainable Sunday Couture: Domestic Workers and Upcycling Designers. HKU Knowledge Exchange Project Fund. (PI: Dr. Julie Ham [HKU])
2016–2017 PI, Creative Industries in Flux: A Critical Investigation into the Challenges, Agency and Potential of Cultural and Creative Workers in Hong Kong. Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (PPR). (Co-I: Dr. Anne Peirson-Smith [City University of Hong Kong]).
2016–2017 PI, Size Does Matter: Reflecting Our Attitudes and Knowledge about Non-Human Animals in Urban Hong Kong. Interdisciplinary Knowledge Exchange Project Fund. (Co-I: Dr. Benoit Guénard [Biological Science, HKU] & Dr. Carmen Tong [Sociology, HKU]).
2015–2017 PI, Co-creating Fashion in the Post-Industrial Society: A Comparative Analysis of Creative Industries in China and South Korea. Funded by Early Career Scheme (ECS), University Grants Council. (Co-Is: Dr. Solee Shin [National University of Singapore], Dr. Pan Lu [Hong Kong Polytechnic University] and Dr. Jana Hajzlerova [Charles University in Prague])
2014–2015 PI, A Comparative Analysis of Creative Industries in Greater China and South Korea – Fashion as Case Study. HKU Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research for New Staff (and Departmental Matching Fund)
Visiting fellowship and awards
2021–2023 Dean’s list (UvA Humanities) for the Fellowship of Amsterdam Young Academy (AYA)
2019 Awardee, The Social Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, University of Hong Kong
2019 Shortlisted Finalist, HKU Outstanding Teaching Awards, University of Hong Kong
Fall 2018 Visiting Scholar, Department of Anthropology, University College London (UCL)
Fall 2018 Visiting Scholar, School of Media and Communication, London College of Fashion,
University of the Arts, London (UAL)
Aug 2015 Visiting Scholar, Fashion Institute of Design, Donghua University, Shanghai
Jul 2015 Visiting Scholar, National Center for Radio and Television Studies, Communication
University of China, Beijing
Invited lectures (selected)
Oct 25, 2019, Speaker, “From Shanzhai chic to Gangnam style: Seven practices of cultural-economic mediation in China and Korea”, Media@Sydney Research Seminar Series, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney, Australia.
Oct 24, 2019, Speaker, “Reconceptualising prosumption beyond the ‘cultural turn’: Passive fashion prosumption in Korea and China”, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney, Australia.
Nov 28, 2018, Speaker, “Reconceptualising prosumption beyond the ‘cultural turn’: Passive fashion prosumption in Korea and China”, Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, King’s College London (KCL), UK.
Nov 14, 2018, Speaker, “Reconceptualising prosumption beyond the ‘cultural turn’: Passive fashion prosumption in Korea and China”, School of Media and Communication, London College of Fashion (LCF), University of the Arts London, UK.
Nov 7, 2018, Speaker, “The rise of the ‘neo-precariat’? The emerging precarious challenges for and responses of formal creative labour in advertising and public relations industries”, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK.
Nov 6, 2018, Speaker, “From Shanzhai chic to Gangnam Style: Can the new practices of cultural mediation in China and Korea counter the asymmetrical global flows of fashion?”, Global Media & Communications, Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies, University of Warwick, UK.
Oct 24, 2018, Speaker, “The rise of the ‘neo-precariat’? The emerging precarious challenges for and responses of formal creative labour in advertising and public relations industries”, School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester, UK.
Oct 17, 2018, Speaker, “From Shanzhai chic to Gangnam Style: Can the new practices of cultural mediation in China and Korea counter the asymmetrical global flows of fashion?”, Arts and Cultural Enterprise Programme, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, UK.
Oct 15, 2018, Speaker, “Global fashion: East-West internationalisation”, Oxford China Forum, China Centre, University of Oxford, UK.
Sep 9, 2016, Speaker, “Fashion as a social field: Global diffusion of Chinese and South Korean fashion as counter-cultural imperialism?” Fashion Research Network and Coventry University London Campus (CULC), London, UK.
Jul 14, 2015, Speaker, “Co-creating fashion in the post-industrial society: Creative industries in Mainland China and South Korea.” Peking University, Beijing, China.
Peer-reviewed conference presentations (selected)
Tse, T. & Gheorghiu, I. (2020). “The untenable flatness of practice: Moralising dress consumption in post-socialist China and Romania”, Critical Fashion Studies Conference, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australia. Feb 27–29, 2020.
Tse, T. (2019). “Dream a different dream of Xi: How Alibaba’s workers make sense of their clashing goals”, The 2019 HKU-WES International Symposium: Worlds of Work: Urbanisation, Technology and Sustainability, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Sep 9–11, 2019.
Tse, T. (2019). “Dream, dream, dream: The interwoven national, organisational and individual goals of workers in China's technology sector”, HKU-USydney Symposium: Cross-border Media Flows, Infrastructures and Imaginaries in a Changing Asia-Pacific, Department of Sociology, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Aug 30, 2019.
Tse, T. & Wong, E. (2016). “Transnational fashion media communication and Consumption in China and South Korea.” The 2016 International Conference on Design History and Design Studies, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei, Taiwan. Oct 26–28, 2016.
Shin, S. & Tse, T. (2016). “Developing a base for global fashion in Korea: How a budding fashion industry emerged from a big business-driven economy”, The Association for Asian Studies (AAS) 2016 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington, United States. Mar 31–Apr 3, 2016.
Tse, T., Shin, S., Hajzlerova, J., & Pan, L. (2015). “Co–creating fashion in the post-industrial society: A comparative study of creative industries in China and Korea”. Fashion Tales – International Conference 2015, ModaCult – Centre for the Study of Fashion and Cultural Production, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. Jun 18–20, 2015.
Tse, T. (2014). “A myth of fashion media: A rising country makes a dwindling city?”. Fashion Thinking – Theory, History, Practice Conference, Design School Kolding, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. Oct 30–Nov 1, 2014.
Tse, T. (2013). “Fashion communication in Asia”. 5th Global Conference: Fashion, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Sep 9–12, 2013.