Commodifying Suzhi: transformations in discourses of Suzhi in contemporary Shanghai.

Date

2011-08-18

Authors

Noto, Yuumi

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Abstract

While studies of the discourse of suzhi, which can be roughly translated as “quality,” are a rapidly growing field in contemporary China, few scholars have addressed the relationship between suzhi and commodity among Chinese women. Through this lens, this thesis examines the politics and contradictions of suzhi by focusing on urban and rural migrant women in Shanghai. In this project, I investigate the materialization and transformation of suzhi into different forms of capital based on the work of Pierre Bourdieu. I explore how the concept of suzhi justifies and normalizes socio-economic inequalities between rural and urban areas. I employ several methodologies including a literature review, an interview survey, and a photo-based survey. Through these methods, I explore how the concept of suzhi and its commodification are embedded in contemporary China. My results illustrate that suzhi is not just a personal quality or disposition, but can also be a tangible commodity. As well, my results suggest that there is a close connection between what is perceived as personal quality and monetary value. These relationships show the intersection and complexities of evolving ideas regarding individual performance through personal quality, financial ability, and fashion.

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Keywords

suzhi, commodification, China, migration, capital

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