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The Changing Landscape of China’s Consumerism - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9781843347613, 9781780634425

The Changing Landscape of China’s Consumerism

1st Edition

Editor: Alison Hulme
Hardcover ISBN: 9781843347613
eBook ISBN: 9781780634425
Imprint: Chandos Publishing
Published Date: 30th June 2014
Page Count: 256
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Table of Contents

  • List of abbreviations
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the editor
  • About the contributors
  • Introduction Iron rice bowls and plastic money: the push and pull of consumerism’s rise in capitalist/communist China
  • Chapter 1: In pursuit of status: the rising consumerism of China’s middle class
    • Abstract:
    • Introduction
    • Tastes, symbols, and lifestyles: consumers of media
    • Cultural and social consumers
    • Consumption of education
    • Consumers of technology and online shopping
    • Home ownership
    • Images of the ‘explosive rich’ versus the ‘cultured’
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2: Mao’s children are wearing fashion!
    • Abstract:
    • Introduction
    • The portrait of the female factory worker in her red dress
    • The revisionist narrative and its discontents
    • Conclusion: from gender to sexuality – the sexual politics of fashion and consumption
  • Chapter 3: Learning to consume Tibet
    • Abstract:
    • Notes
  • Chapter 4: Dolce & Banana, A Shanzhai Creator’s Manual: production and consumption of fake in contemporary Chinese art practices
    • Abstract:
    • Introduction
    • Chinese paintings, calligraphies, and their forgeries
    • Canton export paintings
    • ‘Capitalism with Chinese characteristics!’ – fakes and knock-offs
    • Shanzhai spirit – creativity and innovation
    • ‘Never meant to copy – only want to surpass’: shanzhai architecture and villages
    • The art of shanzhai – Dafen Oil Painting Village
    • The new artist-clients
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 5: Thriving medical consumerism in the margin of the state: a case study of medical pluralism in Southwest China
    • Abstract:
    • The problem
    • The theories
    • The setting
    • The medicines
    • Concluding observations
  • Chapter 6: Frugalists, anti-consumers, and prosumers: Chinese philosophical perspectives on consumerism
    • Abstract:
    • Introduction
    • Are Confucians ‘capitalist-roaders’?
    • Can Confucians be consumer-capitalists? Can consumer-capitalists be Confucian?
    • Anti-consumers and prosumers: Mohists and Daoists
    • Concluding reflections
  • Chapter 7: ‘To live is to serve the people’: the spirit of model soldier Lei Feng in postmodernity
    • Abstract:
    • Introduction
    • ‘The Lei Feng spirit will always exist!’
    • Lei Feng enthusiasm: activities and propaganda
    • Consumption, irony, and commerce
    • Concluding remarks
  • Chapter 8: Advertising and China: How does a love/hate relationship work?
    • Abstract:
    • Guess who’s back?
    • Capitalist or socialist, that is the question
    • Dancing with wolves
    • The show must go on
  • References
  • Index


Consumerism in China has developed rapidly. The Changing Landscape of China's Consumerism looks at the growth of consumerism in China from both a socio-economic and a political/cultural angle. It examines changing trends in consumption in China as well as the impact of these trends on society, and the politics and culture surrounding them. It examines the ways in which, despite needing to "unlock" the spending power of the rural provinces, the Chinese authorities are also keen to maintain certain attitudes towards the Communist Party and socialism "with Chinese Characteristics." Overall, it aims to show that consumerism in China today is both an economic and political phenomenon and one which requires both surrounding political culture and economic trends for its continued establishment. The ways in which this dual relationship both supports and battles with itself are explored through apposite case studies including the use of New Confucianism in the market context, the commodification of Lei Feng, the new Chinese tourist as a diplomatic tool in consumption, the popularity of Shanzhai (fake product) culture, and the conspicuous consumption of China's new middle class.

Key Features

  • Provides innovative interdisciplinary research, useful to cultural studies, sociology, Chinese studies, and politics
  • Examines changes in consumerism from multiple perspectives
  • Allows both micro and macro insights into consumerism in China by providing specific case studies, while placing these within the context of geo-politics and grand theory


Teachers at all levels, and students in various disciplines, including (but not limited to) cultural studies, politics, sociology, and Chinese Studies. Also, intelligent lay-readers interested in learning more about consumption in current-day China.


No. of pages:
© Chandos Publishing 2014
30th June 2014
Chandos Publishing
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:


" better seen as an ideology or a set of values, and we will be better served by viewing Chinese consumerism dissected and diagnosed as such, in an ongoing ideological battleground that involves all members of society across the world. For that, this book is certainly a good starting point." --Pacific Affairs, The Changing Landscape of China’s Consumerism

"I recommend it to all those who are either interested in learning about contemporary consumer culture in China or committed to engaging in serious research." --Journal of Economics

Ratings and Reviews

About the Editor

Alison Hulme

Alison Hulme teaches at Goldsmiths College, University of London, from where she gained her PhD in Cultural Studies in 2011 and her MA in Anthropology in 2006. She also has a BA in Media Studies from the University of Sussex. She has previously taught intensive courses in contemporary China at the University of Iceland and Beijing Foreign Studies University. Her work focuses on media culture with an emphasis on China (film, TV, state-produced poster campaigns, imagery of cities, etc.), the history of entrepreneurialism in China, and material culture. These strands are linked by a concern with theories of the commodity and consumption. Alison also takes on social research consultancies. Prior to entering academia, Alison was a radio and TV presenter for many years. In her spare time she jointly runs a film club and has a particular interest in 1930s Chinese leftist cinema and the French films of Jacques Tati.

Affiliations and Expertise

Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK