Consumer Culture in China and the Middle Class

2711 Words11 Pages
Introduction China’s unique consumer culture can be traced back to the turn of the twentieth century when it was closely related to and acted as an aid to nationalism. According to Gerth, Chinese consumption trends in the 1920s were directed by the slogan ‘Chinese should consume China made products’ (4). The motive behind this trend was to encourage the consumption of Chinese products, and nationalism was used to foster this belief and trend (Gerth 4). Consumption at this early age can be assumed to having been directed by the government, which used to regulate the goods which were consumed by its citizens. The onset of globalization shifted this trend from the ethnocentric tendency to consumerism where the Chinese citizens got access to various types of brands irrespective of their government’s preferences (Croll) 302. This trend has brought with it a unique form of consumer behavior characterized by a spendthrift habit that is different from the earlier existent saving behavior (Davis 77). This paper discuses the effect of the Chinese consumer behavior on the middle class citizens in China. Consumption Behavior in Early China According to Gerth the consumer culture in china was being used to promote nationalism during the Mao and immediate post Mao regimes (4). At this time, the main aim of this initiative was to link consumption and nationalism by introducing the issue of national products and brands. Consumption of these national products was highly encouraged in addition to being viewed as patriotism. Shoppers who kept stock and sold the locally made products were well treated and publicized by the government. On the contrary, the ones who sold foreign commodities were labeled anti-patriotic. The government’s attempt... ... middle of paper ... ...abit among its citizens. The promotion of this habit is in line with the global consumerism trend that has its roots in the western nations. This trend involves availing a wide variety of goods to the consumers, with an aim of wooing them to consume them. Works Cited Croll, Elisabeth. China's New Consumers: Social Development and Domestic Demand. London: Routledge, 2006. Print. Davis, Deborah. The Consumer Revolution in Urban China. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2000. Print. Gerth, Karl. China Made: Consumer Culture and the Creation of the Nation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. Print. Li, Cheng. China's Emerging Middle Class: Beyond Economic Transformation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2010. Print. Wu, Yanrui. China's Consumer Revolution: the Emerging Patterns of Wealth and Expenditure. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1999. Print.
Open Document