Consumer-Citizens of China: The Role of Foreign Brands in the Imagined Future China

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Routledge, Nov 1, 2010 - Political Science - 176 pages

A PDF version of this book is available for free in open access via as well as the OAPEN Library platform, It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license and is part of the OAPEN-UK research project.

This book presents a comprehensive examination of Chinese consumer behaviour and challenges the previously dichotomous interpretation of the consumption of Western and non-Western brands in China. The dominant position is that Chinese consumers are driven by a desire to imitate the lifestyles of Westerners and thereby advance their social standing locally. The alternative is that consumers reject Western brands as a symbolic gesture of loyalty to their nation-state.

Drawing from survey responses and in depth interviews with Chinese consumers in both rural and urban areas, Kelly Tian and Lily Dong find that consumers situate Western brands within select historical moments. This embellishment attaches historical meanings to Western brands in ways that render them useful in asserting preferred visions of the future China. By highlighting how Western brands are used in contests for national identity, Consumer-Citizens of China challenges the notion of the "patriot’s paradox" and answers scholars’ questions as to whether Chinese nationalists today allow for a Sino-Western space where the Chinese can love China without hating the West.

Consumer-Citizens of China will be of interest to students and scholars of business studies, Chinese and Asian Studies and Political Science.

Kelly Tian is Professor of Marketing and holds the Anderson Chair of Business at New Mexico State University.

Lily Dong is Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.


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Imagining China imagining brands
Rethinking popular notions of Chinese consumers motives
Rethinking the primacy of the emulative motive for consuming
Rethinking consumer nationalism as synonymous with
Highlighted moments in the history of branded goods
Branded goods since gaige kaifang Chinas economic reform
Relevance of these past moments to presentday brand
The West as imperialist oppressor Western brands
The West as subjugated conquered Western brands
The West as economic partner Western brands as instruments
Individual psychological processes of enlivening consumption
The influence of national narratives of EastWest relations
Citizenconsumers in an age of globalization

Foreign brands in China as global brands from the imagined
Foreign brands as Western brands with distinguishing

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About the author (2010)

Kelly Tian is Professor of Marketing in the Department of Management and Marketing, College of Business, University of Wyoming, USA.

Lily Dong is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

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