JEREMY LEUNG — Reading Journal 1
The reading titled Consumption, class formation and sexuality: Reading men’s lifestyle magazines in China has greatly broadened my understanding of difference between masculinity in the western society and masculinity in China. In addition the emergence of the “middle class” in China and the way in which they attempt to distinguish themselves within their society through consumption and association with “status” is very interesting. As put by Luigi Tomba (2004) the middle class “appear increasingly to shape their status around a new set of collective interests, especially in their modes of consumption and access to resources” Personally I have been able to witness this behaviour but through the readings have been able to acquire a more in depth understanding of the topic.
Previously I knew very little about the existence of male magazines in China. I would occasionally see them on the shelves when I was visiting the country but personally took no interest in them myself. The readings have given me an insight into the history of these magazines and their increasing popularity over the past decade. I never would of known the way these magazines were so interrelated to the changing culture and development of metrosexuality within the males in China. The concept that a magazine alone can represent a status symbol to the “middle class” of China is very shocking. I myself just view a magazine as a publication for reading and viewing and the idea that others may look about a magazine in envy due to its content or price was previously unfathomable.
Likewise the way in which the consumer of these magazines absorb and interpret the content is extremely different. As put forward in the readings it is viewed as a “taste textbook for successful men” and that “Your taste defines your position”. The emphasis of distinguishing yourself and establishing your status through your “taste” is not something I personally enjoy but I do witness this behaviour a lot overseas with my relatives. Their excessive spending on high end brands is now no longer surprising but has become an accepted fact of life. For example all the high end stores in Hong Kong such as Louis Vuitton always have long lines of people outside their stores waiting to buy the products. What is interesting though is the fact most of these people lining up are not from Hong Kong but rather from mainland China and have come down with the purpose of shopping. These stores are also available in China but they make the trip to Hong Kong in order to ensure the products are genuine. Due to the strong prevalence of counterfeit branded goods in China these consumers fear that even the main chain stores may not be selling genuine goods so they go to Hong Kong because they have a greater trust in the stores there.
The way in which culture has evolved especially the attitudes toward metrosexuality over the past decades has really challenged me to think about what new trends might occur in China over the upcoming decades. Being such a fast paced growing economy the possibilities are essentially endless.
Tomba, L. (2004). Creating an Urban Middle Class: Social Engineering in Beijing, The China Journal, No. 51