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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)

Published
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
Pages137-156
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9789888208562
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameTransnational Asian Masculinities
PublisherHong Kong University Press

Abstract

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.