Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China's New Rich by John Osburg

By John Osburg

Who precisely are China's new wealthy? This pioneering research introduces readers to the personal lives—and the nightlives—of the robust marketers and executives redefining good fortune and standing within the urban of Chengdu. Over the process greater than 3 years, anthropologist John Osburg followed, and in a few cases assisted, filthy rich chinese language businessmen as they courted consumers, companions, and executive officials.

Drawing on his immersive studies, Osburg invitations readers to affix him as he trips throughout the new, hugely gendered leisure websites for chinese language businessmen, together with karaoke golf equipment, saunas, and therapeutic massage parlors—places particularly designed to cater to the wishes and pleasure of elite males. inside of those areas, a masculinization of commercial is happening. Osburg info the advanced code of habit that governs businessmen as they pass approximately banqueting, consuming, playing, bribing, changing presents, and acquiring sexual services.

These complex social networks play a key function in producing enterprise, appearing social prestige, and reconfiguring gender roles. yet many marketers suppose trapped by way of their duties and ethical compromises during this evolving surroundings. eventually, Osburg examines their deep ambivalence approximately China's destiny and their very own complicity within the significant problems with post-Mao chinese language society—corruption, inequality, materialism, and lack of belief.

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Extra resources for Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China's New Rich

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However, because of its cheaper labor costs, China’s interior is very quickly attracting more and more manufacturing. Transportation has also improved with the construction of thousands of miles of highways that link western China to the coast. Given its role as the commercial center of western China, the entrepreneurs with whom I worked were more likely to be involved in various forms of trade, from the distribution of liquor to the sale of foreign automobiles, than in manufacturing. What manufacturing does exist in Chengdu is concentrated primarily in the pharmaceutical, aeronautics, electronics, food, and liquor industries.

However, as I discuss in Chapter Four, many of the entrepreneurs I worked with confront the forms of cosmopolitanism promoted by global mass media and the modes of citizenship promoted by the state with considerable ambivalence. While most new-rich Chinese hope to be recognized as members of a global elite, the forms of masculine entertainment that predominate in urban China are not straightforward imitations of elite lifestyles from Chinese television, Hong Kong, or Hollywood films. Rather, the more proximate others and more pressing concerns of their social networks and business ventures exert a power­ful influence in orienting their desires and practices.

Many of the entrepreneurs who owned or managed their own businesses spent their days in teahouses, often playing cards and discussing entrepreneurial ventures with their business associates. However, in emulation of their bosses’ habits, many junior managers also spent their days in (less expensive) teahouses doing the same. Thus, most concrete tasks were eventually delegated to assistant managers and low-ranking employees who were stuck at their offices and places of business. Despite the weight Chengduers gave to regional culture in accounting for their behaviors and attitudes, many of the practices I examine in this book have a national reach.

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