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Bittersweet China: new discourses of hardship and social organisation

Bittersüßes China: neue Diskurse über Härten und soziale Organisation
[journal article]

Griffiths, Michael B.; Zeuthen, Jesper

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Abstract "This paper argues that new interpretations of 'eating bitterness' (chiku) have firmly entered the landscape of China's social organisation. Whereas the bitterness eaten by heroic types in China's revolutionary past was directed towards serving others, now the aim of eating bitterness is self-awareness. Furthermore, bitterness-eating, which once pertained to rural-urban migrant workers as opposed to discourses of urban 'quality' (suzhi), has now also been taken up by the urban middle classes. A new cultural distinction, therefore, adds dignity to migrant workers while potentially marginalising a wide range of unproductive people, both urban and rural. This distinction ultimately mitigates risk to the Chinese regime because the regime makes sure to reward those who eat bitterness. This paper is based on ethnographic data gathered in Anshan, from the rural areas surrounding Chengdu, and our analysis of a TV show about a peasant boy who becomes a Special Forces soldier." (author's abstract)
Keywords China; middle class; social status; distinction; cultural factors; social norm; television; discourse; Far East
Classification Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature; Macrosociology, Analysis of Whole Societies
Document language German
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 143-174
Journal Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 43 (2014) 4
ISSN 1868-1026
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-NoDerivs