Post-Mao China has been characterized in literature and the media as a burgeoning consumer society. Consuming China investigates this characterization by examining the cultural significance of consumption and consumerism in the People’s Republic of China today. In questioning the notion of consumption, this impressive work suggests that it is not simply a symptom of economic reform within China neither a product of the emergence and transformation of contemporary Chinese capitalism. Rather, the essays offer a new perspective on Chinese consumption by focusing on more than just consumerism, looking at the practices of consumption in relation to different manifestations of social and cultural change.
Drawing on case studies from Taiwan, Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China, Consuming China affords a greater understanding of the practice of Chinese consumption and will appeal to China scholars and anthropologists, and to those with an interest in cultural and gender studies.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Consumption and Cultural Change in Contemporary China 2. Conjuring Goods, Identities and Cultures 3. Deception, Corruption and the Chinese Ritual Economy 4. The Emergence of Consumer Rights: Legal Protection of the Consumer in the PRC 5. Powers of Imagination: The Role of the Consumer in China's Silent Media Revolution 6. Changing Tastes in Guangzhou: Restaurant Writings in the Late 1990s 7. On (not) Eating the Dead: Reader's Digest of a Chinese Funerary Taboo 8. Images of the Chinese: Photography and Consumerism in 1990s Hangzhou 9. Fashions and Feminine Consumption 10. Wong Kar-wai's Sensuous Histories 11. The Consuming or the Consumed? Virtual Hmong in China 12. Afterword: Reflections on China, Consumption and Cultural Change
'Consuming China's major contribution is to scholarly discourse on the socio-cultural dynamics and transformative qualitites of post-Mao China's burgeoning consumerism, while at the same time it reminds us ... that the "practice of Chinese consumption" goes beyond these parameters.' - Beverly Hooper, The China Journal, No 58, July 2007