Patterns of Middle Class Consumption in India and China

This book explores the complex history and sociology of the middle class from a comparative perspective. It has papers written by sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists rather than economists, so the emphasis is on cultural shifts rather than economic statistics. The major contribution of this volume is that these two emerging powers of Asia are not, as is usual, compared to the West but with each other. Considering that these two societies have so much in common in scale, civilizational history and as emerging economies, the book is timely. Its focus is on the social and political implications of new consumption patterns among the middle classes of India and China in the context of economic growth, market liberalization and globalization. Reflecting upon and critically engaging with traditional sociological notions on which definitions of the middle class have been based, the book analyzes the intermingling of these notions with new attitudes in the wake of the consumer revolution. An entire gamut of aspects of consumer culture is explored – tourism, leisure activities and the entertainment industry (art, karaoke and soap operas) – as well as the consumption of experiences through these. It is argued that these phenomena have particular Indian and Chinese incarnations, which need to be analyzed in a manner that does not privilege a limited western experience of globalization. With fresh insights and perspectives, the book will appeal to students of anthropology, sociology, political science, media studies and cultural studies. It will also be useful for market research professionals.

 


CONTENTS

List of Tables
List of Figures
Acknowledgements

1. Introduction
Christophe Jaffrelot and Peter van der Veer

2. ‘Why Should We Vote?’: The Indian Middle Class and the Functioning of the World’s Largest Democracy
Christophe Jaffrelot

3. Rewriting the Code: Software Professionals and the Reconstitution of Indian Middle Class Identity
Carol Upadhya

4. The Indian Corporate Hospitals: Touching Middle Class Lives
Bertrand Lefebvre

5. Middle Class: Reality or Illusion?
Xiaohong Zhou

6. Power of Knowledge: The Imaginary Formation of the Chinese Middle Stratum in an Era of Growth and Stability
Anand V. Taneja

7. A Requiem for Songpan, or Once More about China’s Civilizing Mission
Pál Nyíri

8. History and Heritage Woven in the New Urban Fabric: The Changing Landscapes of Delhi’s ‘First City’. Or, Who Can Tell the Histories of Lado Sarai?
Anand V. Taneja

9. Eat, Drink and Sing, and Be Modern and Global: Food, Karaoke and ‘Middle Class’ Consumers in China
Xun Zhou

10. Transnational and Transcultural Circulation and Consumption of East Asian Television Drama
Chua Beng Huat

11. Sex, Television and the Middle Class in China
Jacqueline Elfick

12. Aspirational Weddings: The Bridal Magazine and the Canons of ‘Decent Marriage’
Patricia Uberoi

13. Yeh Dil Maange More…Television and Consumer Choices in a Global City
Shoma Munshi

14. Consuming Art in Middle Class China
Puay-peng Ho

About the Editors and Contributors
Index