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Making Class and Gender: White-collar Men in Postsocialist China

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

Publication date2016
Host publicationChanging Chinese Masculinities: From Imperial Pillars of State to Global Real Men
EditorsKam Louie
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherHong Kong University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9789888208562
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameTransnational Asian Masculinities
PublisherHong Kong University Press


The prominence of white-collar (bailing) identity in twenty-first century China is a significant outcome of the major class and gender transformations in the reform era. White-collar men more than any other category fit the post-Mao project of producing affluent, well-educated, civilized (wenming) and high-quality (suzhi gao) individuals, replete with material and career aspirations and the skills to compete in the transnational economy. This chapter explores the formation of Chinese white-collar men's subjectivities through interviews and ethnographic research. It reveals that Chinese white-collar men draw on a variety of globally circulating and locally embedded discourses to explain and legitimise their behaviour. Often defining themselves through a rhetoric of freedom and equality, but also acting to shore up their own gendered and classed privileges, Chinese white-collar men show themselves to be paradoxically progressive and conservative at the same time.