This imaginative and incisive collection of pieces about life in contemporary China reveals, like a series of snapshots, a picture of the lives of ordinary people and the rules and rituals that govern their daily existence. Key themes surface: in particular, the emergence of a consumer culture driven by the market, and the way in which this intersects with the 'floating population' of vagrants, prostitutes, and liumang (hooligans). We see how, in turn, the official strategies of the state deal with this perceived social disorder and how the street responds. Underlying much of the discussion of contestation and transformation is the notion of human rights. There will be no better introduction to the discourses of contemporary China, and few more entertaining, vivid, and stimulating accounts of shifts in cultural life and politics.
Michael Dutton (University of Melbourne)
Series edited by
Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
Series: Cambridge Modern China Series
13 April 2000
Professional and scholarly
Streetlife Subalterns; Part I. Rights, Traditions, Daily Life and Deviance: 1. Rights and traditions; 2. Daily life in the work unit; 3. Defining 'outsiders', labelling Liumang; Part II. The 'Strategies' of Government and 'Tactics' of the Subaltern: 4. Analysis; 5. Government strategies I; 6. Government strategies II; 7. Subaltern tactics and government response; Part III. Naming, Framing, Marking: 8. Naming; 9. Framing; 10. Marking; Part IV. The Architecture of Life: 11. City space; 12. Social relations and the architecture of life; 13. Out of the work unit; 14. Changing landscapes, changing mentalities; Part V. Stories of the Fetish: 15. Chairman Mao; Part VI. Market Trainings.
Reviews for Streetlife China
'Dutton describes this wonderful book as 'a treasure box of possibilities. Possibilities both for Chinese society and for those of us in the business of making sense of it.' You never know what you will come across in its pages ... It is endlessly interesting.' The Guardian 'Michael Dutton is in the option of this reviewer the most gifted China analyst working today with poststructuralist methods and concepts.' Arif Kirlik, Duke University 'Streetlife China is a well-researched and intelligent look at some of the losers of economic reform in China ... [It] provides a wealth of information on the darker side of the Chinese economic miracle, information available elsewhere in English. This is an aspect of China that, I suspect, will continue to grow in political significance and news worthiness during the next few years.' The Australian 'Dutton has produced a book rippling with fascinating , sometimes bizarre, detail. It is yet another China. He puts it succinctly when he says it is 'a story that begins in a back street and never really leaves it'.' Panorama, Canberra Times 'As always, there are two Chinas: the official and the unofficial. and while experts dissect every word that Beijing's bosses say, the ordinary Chinese on the street are doing what they've always done: going about the struggle of daily life, whether selling Mao badges or posters (regaining popularity), finding a life partner, or - for under one percent of the population, 'an awful lot of people' - resorting to crime. Dutton's text is mesmeric in weaving these diverse backstreet threads into mainstream visions.' The Weekend Australian