This book, set against the background of accounts of globalisation, aims to figure out the consumer orientation of the middle class in contemporary China, in particular how the new elements in consumer orientation operate in the Chinese context. It focuses on the contemporary middle class. Data used in the book are taken from national representative surveys conducted in the recent decade and also from 30 interviews with middle class people in Beijing. The book focuses on the consumption patterns from everyday consumption, taste and material culture. It highlights consumers' self-referential orientations: the pursuit of pleasure, tempered by considerations regarding comfort, is a significant form of aesthetic justification. Living within one's means i.e. keeping a balance between expenditure and income is the main moral justification. Consumers' orientations draw on a new set of elements, conceptualised in this research as "the orientation toward personal pleasure and comfort". This orientation is shaped by social conventions, traditional values and the metropolitan context. The findings challenge the stereotype of the Chinese "new rich" and the one-dimensional pictures of tendencies towards either conspicuous display or frugality.
Contents: IntroductionTheoretical Approaches from the Sociology of ConsumptionThe Formation of the Contemporary Middle ClassThe Emergence of Consumer CultureResearch MethodologyCharacteristics of the Middle Class and Their Consumption PatternsHomeownership of the Young Middle ClassEveryday Consumption of the Middle ClassConsumption and Social ConventionsTaste and Material AspirationConclusion
Readership: Policymakers, professionals, academics, undergraduate and graduate students interested in China's new rich and the consumer orientation of the middle class in contemporary China.
Keywords:Consumption;Middle Class;China Study;Taste;Consumer Culture;SurveyReview:Key Features:This book employs systematic methodology and framework to analyze consumer culture of the middle class, which could generate both academic and marketing significanceThis book draws on a new and distinct conceptualization of the Chinese middle class as "the orientation toward personal pleasure and comfort", to be opposed to the popular depiction of their being either conspicuous or frugalThe author, with her work and life experiences in both China and the UK, has conducted academic practices in multiple contexts and witnessed consumer culture of the Chinese middle class in both China and overseas; these experiences therefore empower the book with more comprehensive and penetrating insights