Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Upcoming Seminar] Driving for the Family: Ethical Negotiation in the Making of Middle Class in Urban China

Driving for the Family: Ethical Negotiation in the Making of Middle Class in Urban China

Speaker: ZHANG Jun 
(Research Assistant Professor, The Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 19 September 2014 
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK 


This talk explores the centrality of family in the making of urban middle class through their experience with auto-mobility in contemporary China. “Middle class” is often taken for granted as a reference to individuals’ class or social status in a similar manner in which cars are generally considered an icon of individual autonomy and freedom. This talk illustrates the ways in which the car and auto-mobility enable the middle class to imagine, redefine and practice proper domestic life. I argue that proper conduct of the self in relation to family is important for them to imagine their membership in the middle-class community. Meanwhile, their conduct coincides with the state’s agenda that seeks to recreate itself by promoting the so-called traditional family values. Just as cars echo political ideology of liberal individualism in many western contexts, cars provide a material medium to articulate and practice family ethics and value that contribute to the legitimization of the state in contemporary China.



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