Challenging preconceived ideas about China

December 14, 2012 5:59 pm0 commentsViews: 4

Ogilvy & Mather

Shanghai: Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing Out, Fitting In by Michael B. Griffiths, Director of Ethnography, Ogilvy & Mather Greater China, was published today (December 13, 2012) by Routledge Press.

This book invites its readers to reflect on Chinese reality in new ways and challenges many a preconceived idea about China.

Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing out, Fitting in confronts the still widespread notion that Chinese people are not ‘real’ individuals by showing how Chinese people go about their daily lives, how they interact socially, make moral judgments, aspire to status and recognition, and consume.

“Dr. Griffiths has given us a rare insight into the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people who live in rapidly developing, but by Chinese standards, still small cities. The skylines of Beijing and Shanghai are now familiar to Western eyes, but it is in hundreds of cities far from our gaze that the China of the 21st century is really being made,” said Toby Lincoln, Lecturer in Modern Chinese Urban History, University of Leicester, UK. “The decisions that these people make about the lives they want to live will ultimately affect us all.”

Based on data gathered over a period of six years from a lower-tier city, Anshan, in China’s northeast the book aims to show how Chinese people give shape to contemporary Chinese society.

To this end, Griffiths demonstrates how Chinese individuals take up cultural norms pertaining to authenticity, knowledge, civility, sociability, morality and self-cultivation, and make these norms their own. At the same time, Griffiths also demonstrates how the ways Chinese individuals do this are themselves shaped by society.

Informants for the book’s analysis included consumerist youths, enterprising farmers, retired Party cadres, and dissident intellectuals, the rural migrant staff of an inner-city restaurant, the urban families dependent on a machine-repair workshop, and a range of white-collar professionals from both the public and private sectors.

Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing out, Fitting in, will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists, and cultural studies scholars, China Studies generalists, and professionals working at the intersection of culture and business in China. Marketers and communications professionals looking to harness Chinese peoples’ motivations will appreciate the way the book draws out how these are differentiated. The vivid descriptions of living and doing field research in China also mean that people travelling there will find the book stimulating and useful.

Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing out, Fitting in is available at bookstores worldwide as well as online book sellers.


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