Bridal photos and diamond rings: the inequality of romantic consumption in China

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Chinese Sociology, 2017, 4 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2017, The Author(s). Although sociological insights into the relationship between consumption and class are mostly borne out by current research in the Chinese context, it is important to consider the implications of applying such an analytic framework—which arose within American and European social contexts—to contemporary China. This paper examines the relationship between consumption and class relations. Drawing on ethnographic research and interviews with young urban professionals in Beijing and Nanjing and young rural migrants in Shenzhen, it asks how individuals from these two socioeconomic cohorts participate in the ritual of romantic consumption. In particular, the paper asks how individuals from these groups think about and rationalise their decisions surrounding two wedding-related consumer items: bridal photography and diamond engagement rings. The discussion reveals some distinct features in class formation in contemporary China, where class structures are fluid, unstable and still in the process of being defined.
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