NameChen, Ju-chen (author), Schein, Louisa (chair), Ramos-Zayas, Ana (internal member), Goldstein, Daniel (internal member), Ko, Dorothy (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Beijing (China)--Social life and customs
DescriptionThis dissertation addresses the remaking of Beijing, with a focus on social differentiations within and beyond the city, under the impacts of the late socialist Chinese state and the expansion of global capitalism in the early 2000s. It is argued that the early 2000s witnessed China transforming from being external-referencing to self-referencing. This research simultaneously investigated the city in global, national and local contexts. Multi-site ethnographic research was performed and a design of multiple informant groups was employed. This dissertation focused on Beijing, but included perspectives external to Beijing. Beijing was the main field site, but extensive ethnographic fieldwork was also conducted in Xi'an, together with several shorter research trips to various locations. Shifting perspectives within and outside of Beijing offered insights into how the physical place of Beijing is variously imagined and created. New social groups are emerging in Beijing during the Economic Reform era, and Beijing is a different place for every distinct group of inhabitants, meaning conclusions about Beijing depend on "whose Beijing" one is addressing. This dissertation focuses on three economically-differentiated informant groups in the emergent social hierarchy of Beijing: a new privileged elite of business professionals, a poor working class of native Beijingers, and a new marginalized underclass of migrant laborers. The dynamics among these groups are examined through their consumption practices and use of mass media because these two domains of daily practice are crucial for identity negotiation in late socialist China. Analyzing social differentiations within and beyond Beijing, I posit that migrant laborers are the key group mediating different people and places. This dissertation argues that Beijing is more than a bounded place or ethnographic site but also a space of concrete social differentiations and virtual imaginations, often involving people and places external to the city. In terms of globalization, this dissertation argues that it is theoretically productive to examine a few areas within Beijing as "contact zones" of global and local communities and of emerging classes rather than considering the city a homogenous place that is undergoing globalization.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 253-257)
Noteby Ju-chen Chen
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.