China Constructing Capitalism: Economic Life and Urban Change

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China has been growing at over ten per cent annually since 1978, but this has only come to very widespread notice in the past decade. This received wisdom about China has been largely of two types, both of which - more or less - understand China in the context of neoliberalism. The more business- or business studies-oriented literature seems to argue that if China does not adapt the rule of clear and distinct property and contract law - in short, of Western institutions - its economy will stall. The second set of voices is more clearly from the left, arguing that the Chinese economy, and city, is neo-liberal. For them, China does not diverge widely from the Anglo-American model that, from 2008, has brought the world economy to its knees.

China Constructing Capitalism takes issue with these analyses. The authors argue that it is not Western neo-liberalism that is constructing the Chinese economy, but instead that China is constructing its own version of capitalism. The two central theses of their argument are:

  • economic life - neo-liberal economic life is individualized and disembedded, while the China model is relational and
  • urban change - China has created a form of 'local state capitalism' which stands in contrast to neoliberal versions of the city.

This book analyses China as a 'risk culture', examining among others Chinese firms and political ties, property development, migrant urbanisms and share trading rooms. It scrutinises the ever-present shadow of the risk-averse (yet uncertainty-creating) state. China Constructing Capitalism is a must-read for social scientists, policy makers and investors.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Scott Lash, (co-) author of such books as Sociology of Postmodernism (Routledge), Reflexive Modernization, Economies of Signs and Space, The End of Organized Capitalism, Critique of information and Global Culture Industry. Lash has published 17 books, now translated in fifteen languages. He is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has acquired a working knowledge of Mandarin.

Michael Keith is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths. For a decade he has been leader of Tower Hamlets Council, London. His books include After Cosmopolitanism and Geographies of Resistance. He is learning to speak Mandarin.

Jakob Arnoldi is Vice-Dean of the Business School at Aarhus University, Denmark. He was until recently Assistant Professor of Sociology at Lehrstuhl Ulrich Beck’s at the University of Munich. He has just completed the book, Uncertain Knowledge to appear in 2008 at Cambridge Polity. Arnoldi has written widely in economic sociology.

Tyler Rooker did his PhD at University of California, Santa Cruz — an ethnography of a high-tech innovation district in Beijing. He is Research Associate on the Goldsmiths China project. He reads, speaks writes Mandarin fluently.

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Part 1: Theorising China Constructing Capitalism Part 2: The Trading Room Part 3: Young Traders Part 4: Financial Products Part 5: Consumers: House Slaves, Stock Slaves Part 6: From Urbanism to City Building (‘Bottom Up’) Part 7: Urbanism’s Risky Future in China (‘Top Down’) Part 8: China Banks

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