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Consumers and Individuals in China

Standing Out, Fitting In

By Michael B. Griffiths

Routledge – 2012 – 236 pages

Series: Chinese Worlds

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $54.95
    978-0-415-73683-1
    November 10th 2013
  • Add to CartHardback: $140.00
    978-0-415-53572-4
    December 9th 2012

Description

Breaking new ground in the study of Chinese urban society, this book applies critical discourse analysis to ethnographic data gathered in Anshan, a third-tier city and market in northeast China. The book confronts the – still widespread – notion that Chinese consumers are not "real" individuals, and in doing so represents an ambitious attempt to give a new twist to the structure versus agency debates in social theory. To this end, Michael B. Griffiths shows how claims to virtues such as authenticity, knowledge, civility, sociable character, moral proprietary and self-cultivation emerge from and give shape to social interaction. Data material for this path-breaking analysis is drawn from informants as diverse as consumerist youths, dissident intellectuals, enterprising farmers, retired Party cadres, the rural migrant staff of an inner-city restaurant, the urban families dependent on a machine-repair workshop, and a range of white-collar professionals.

Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing out, fitting in, will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists, and cultural studies scholars, China Studies generalists, and professionals working at the intersection of culture and business in China. The vivid descriptions of living and doing fieldwork in China also mean that those travelling there will find the book stimulating and useful

Reviews

"an extremely valuable and important contribution to studies of Chinese consumer culture. It achieves its aim of providing detailed anthropological insight into individuality and consumption in China, and thus stands as an important contrast to marketing literature that is interested primarily in Chinese consumers as a (mass) market. The qualitative, reflexive and descriptive approach favoured by Griffiths is certainly more likely to be an important reference point to any scholars of consumption, media and culture seeking a deeper insight into everyday life, subjectivity and consumer agency in contemporary China, for several years to come." - Mehita Iqani, University of the Witwatersrand (Consumption Markets & Culture)

"the ethnography is extraordinarily good, and makes the book worth reading […]definitely read the other chapters of this book, for they offer considerable depth of insight; I would recommend assigning them to students as well, for their fine and detailed analysis of Chinese pursuits of social distinction." - Gordon Mathews, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The China Journal

"What is most pleasing is the sense that Griffiths really knows what he’s talking about. Living in Anshan for several years conducting field research, he evidently engaged in local life in a real grassroots manner. Too often talk of “Chinese consumers” has referred to the high-end, high net-worth end of the market, omitting the lives and cultures of the 99%. Griffiths’ book however sets itself squarely within the migrant workers, low-scale entrepreneurs, farmers and former factory workers of Anshan." - Michael Cormack, managing editor of Agenda magazine; Agenda February 2013.

Contents

1. Introduction, 2. Authenticity 3. Knowledge 4. Civility 5. Sociability 6. Morality 7. Personality 8. Migrants 9. Workers 10. Professionals 11. Conclusion

Author Bio

Michael B. Griffiths is Director of Ethnography at Ogilvy & Mather, Greater China. He is also Associate Research Fellow, White Rose East Asia Centre; and External Research Associate, Centre for International Business, University of Leeds, UK.

Name: Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing Out, Fitting In (Hardback)Routledge 
Description: By Michael B. Griffiths. Breaking new ground in the study of Chinese urban society, this book applies critical discourse analysis to ethnographic data gathered in Anshan, a third-tier city and market in northeast China. The book confronts the – still widespread...
Categories: Chinese Culture & Society, Consumer Behaviour, Chinese Business, Marketing, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Chinese Studies, Asian Business, Asian Culture & Society