SOAS University of London

SOAS scholar’s new book provides fresh insight of Chinese workplace culture

3 October 2017

Dr Jieyu Liu, Deputy Director of the SOAS China Institute and Reader in Sociology of China, explores how gender and sexuality shape experiences at work in the new millennium China in her latest book.

Gender, Sexuality and Power in Chinese Companies: Beauties at Work, published by Palgrave, provides the first ethnographic account of the experiences of highly educated young professional women, hailed by the Chinese media as ‘white-collar beauties’. It exposes the institutional mechanisms – naturalization, objectification and commodification of women – that wield gendered and sexual control in the neoliberal market economy.

Whilst men benefit from symbolic and bureaucratic power, women professionals enact indirect power in a game of domination and resistance. The sources of women’s subversion are grounded in their only-child upbringing which breaks the patrilineal base of familial patriarchy fostering an unprecedented ambition in personal development, gender as inherently relational and a role-oriented system, and inner-outer cultural boundaries as signifiers of moral agency. This raises a new feminist inquiry about the agents for social change. Through a nuanced analysis grounded in the socio-cultural locality, this book throws fresh light upon the ways in which gender, sexuality and power could be theorized beyond a Euro-American reality.

The book launch will be held from 6-8pm in the Brunei Gallery Suite on 9 October. Find out more on the event pages.