Li Zhang's In Search Of Paradise: Analysis

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In Li Zhang’s book In Search of Paradise: Middle-class Living in a Chinese Metropolis, she discusses the changes that have developed as a result of the newly developed middle-class in modern China. These new developments have changed the ways that Chinese citizens are thinking about privacy, consumption, advertising and how they are determining their self-worth. These changes have been influenced by reforms such as changes to people’s ability to own property and have allowed them to better themselves. These changes have not all been successful though. These reforms have led to disputes of ownership and the methods that have been used to manage new housing developments. This book addresses how people are changing and adapting in order to cope …show more content…
Advertising has become an essential part of helping China’s middle-class to determine what goods and services that they will consume (Zhang 2010: 108). One market that reflects the importance of advertising is the real estate market. A critical part of displaying your status is related to the house that you live in. While advertising has become an essential tool of China’s middle-class, there are issues that have arisen from the increased use of advertising of goods and services. In the case of real estate advertising, some developers have used tactics that mislead people about what they are buying. For example, there was a case of real estate sales agents that verbally promised new residents that they would have “green space” that would not be used for future housing developments. Despite the sales agents verbally promising this feature to their buyers, they began developing new housing of the “green space” within a few years (Zhang 2010: 202-203). Another development that has taken place in the advertising realm is the use of personal ads. People are now advertising themselves in the hopes of finding a romantic partner (Zhang 2010: 171). These two examples to the changes to advertising in China highlight the ways that the new middle-class is expanding and …show more content…
In the past, self-worth was based on social relationships with family, friends and colleagues. With the development of China’s middle-class, self-worth has changed to become more individualized and has become manifested through property possession (Zhang 2010: 164). Concepts of masculinity and femininity have also become increasingly important and the criteria for men and women is different. For men, self-worth has come to be a reflection of how much money they make, their physical possessions and their ability to obtain and maintain political power. For women, self-worth is determined by the feminization of their bodies. For women, this applies to both their physical appearance and the ways that they compose themselves These new methods of determining self-worth have had negative effects on both men and women. For men, if they are unable to obtain significant material goods and status, they will most likely face difficulties when they try to find a wife. For women, they put their bodies through physically altering surgeries to make themselves more appealing. If they are unable to afford these alterations, they will also have difficulties in finding a husband (Zhang 2010:

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