Friday, March 8, 2013

Faculty Colloquium: Shampoo in China: Development, Consumerism, and Modernity

"Shampoo in China: Development, Consumerism, and Modernity"

Speaker Prof. Joseph Bosco
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, CUHK

Time: 16:00 p.m., Friday, 15 March 2013
Venue: G24, Arts and Humanities Hub, Fung King Hey Building 

This talk seeks to understand consumerism by examining the rapid adoption of shampoo in China since 1979. Before 1979, the same bar soap used for laundry was used for washing the body and hair, and it was rationed. In the 1980s, many domestic soap and shampoo brands emerged, but after 1986, products made by multinational companies became popular. Many consumer advocates have argued that the quality differences between different brands are slight. Yet some “foreign” brands (made in China) cost three times or more than local brands. Why are people willing to pay a premium for fancy soap and shampoo, when only the user, in most cases, knows what type of soap he/she has used? What images and ideals are consumers buying with each bar or bottle? What does the rapid adoption of shampoo in China tell us about consumerism and the prospects for sustainable development?

The talk will take about an hour followed by half an hour of Q&A. It will also be a good chance for colleagues and students to chat over coffee and refreshments after the talk. 

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