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 strong marketers and bosses redefining luck and standing within the urban of Chengdu. Over the process greater than 3 years, anthropologist John Osburg observed, 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 hitch him as he trips in the course of 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, ingesting, playing, bribing, changing presents, and acquiring sexual services.

These tricky social networks play a key function in producing enterprise, appearing social prestige, and reconfiguring gender roles. yet many marketers think trapped via their duties and ethical compromises during this evolving setting. finally, 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

Sample text

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.

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. All of the entrepreneurs I worked with had business networks that extended to other major Chinese cities, and most had both Chinese and non-Chinese business associates in other countries.

During my research, I observed that prestige accrued to those who pos- 24 INTRODUCTION sessed expansive guanxiwang and could mobilize them to get things done for others. As Yunxiang Yan (1996) points out, gifts tend to flow to those who have the most power and prestige and are thus most likely to be able to assist others with weaker guanxi networks. Many of my informants often went out of their way to do favors, offer gifts, or deepen a relationship with a powerful boss or official even when no immediate favor was being sought since these actions allowed them to broaden their guanxiwang.

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