Privatizing China

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Everyday life in China is increasingly shaped by a novel mix of neoliberal and socialist elements, of individual choices and state objectives. This combination of self-determination and socialism from afar has incited profound changes in the ways individuals think and act in different spheres of society. Covering a vast range of daily life—from homeowner organizations and the users of Internet cafes to self-directed professionals and informed consumers—the essays in Privatizing China create a compelling picture of the burgeoning awareness of self-governing within the postsocialist context.

The introduction by Aihwa Ong and Li Zhang presents assemblage as a concept for studying China as a unique postsocialist society created through interactions with global forms. The authors conduct their ethnographic fieldwork in a spectrum of domains—family, community, real estate, business, taxation, politics, labor, health, professions, religion, and consumption—that are infiltrated by new techniques of the self and yet also regulated by broader socialist norms. Privatizing China gives readers a grounded, fine-grained intimacy with the variety and complexity of everyday conduct in China's turbulent transformation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Privatizing China is an outstanding contribution to the literature on the extraordinary changes taking place in China today. Its authors analyze fresh evidence through new and compelling frameworks that capture the often contradictory but always fascinating 'assemblages' that constitute Chinese social, economic, cultural, and political life. All of the essays adopt a mode of presentation and argumentation that moves back and forth between theoretical commentary and ethnographic description; all are clearly written, highly accessible, moving, and evocative in their storytelling."—Susan Greenhalgh, University of California, Irvine

"Privatizing China is an important book that deserves a close reading by all scholars interested in postsocialist societies and/or twenty-first-century socialisms. Contributors explore China's headlong plunge into the privatization of housing, urban land, labor, consumption practices, health care, and new media. This is anthropology at its very best."—James L. Watson, Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society and Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801473784
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1980
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,323,388
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction: Privatizing China: Powers of the Self, Socialism from Afar   Aihwa Ong   Li Zhang     1
Powers of Property     21
Emerging Class Practices     23
Private Homes, Distinct Lifestyles: Performing a New Middle Class   Li Zhang     23
Property Rights and Homeowner Activism in New Neighborhoods   Benjamin L. Read     41
Accumulating Land and Money     57
Socialist Land Masters: The Territorial Politics of Accumulation   You-tien Hsing     57
Tax Tensions: Struggles over Income and Revenue   Bei Li   Steven M. Sheffrin     71
Negotiating Neoliberal Values     87
"Reorganized Moralism": The Politics of Transnational Labor Codes   Pun Ngai     87
Neoliberalism and Hmong/Miao Transnational Media Ventures   Louisa Schein     103
Powers of the Self     121
Taking Care of One's Health     123
Consuming Medicine and Biotechnology in China   Nancy N. Chen     123
Should I Quit? Tobacco, Fraught Identity, and the Risks of Governmentality   Matthew Kohrman     133
Wild Consumption: Relocating Responsibilities in the Time of SARS   Mei Zhan     151
Managing the Professional Self     168
Post-Mao Professionalism: Self-enterprise and Patriotism   Lisa M. Hoffman     168
Self-fashioning Shanghainese: Dancing across Spheres of Value   Aihwa Ong     182
Search for the Self in New Publics     197
Living Buddhas, Netizens, and the Price of Religious Freedom   Dan Smyer Yu     197
Privatizing Control: Internet Cafes in China   Zhou Yongming     214
Afterword: Thinking Outside the Leninist Corporate Box   Ralph A. Litzinger     230
Notes     237
Contributors     271
Index     275
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