Century of humiliation and consumer culture: the making of national identity

I-Chieh Michelle Yang, Juliana French, Christina Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


In this chapter, the role of the humiliation discourse in the construction of Chinese national identity is explored. China’s phenomenal economic development in recent decades has precipitated a flourishing consumer culture. However, as China remains as an authoritarian regime, the paradoxical consumer culture begs the question of how Chinese national identity may evolve. Using international tourism as the consumption context, this study argues that engaging in international tourism provides an important platform for Chinese citizens to negotiate their national identity—what it means to be a Chinese in this modern world through interaction with foreign culture and people. In three separate ethnographic tours with Chinese citizens, 28 Chinese citizens were interviewed, and field notes and participant observations were also obtained during the data collection. It is revealed that international tourism provides an avenue to affirm and express their national identity. Traveling to another country allows one to compare the level of development in the destination to that of their own, allowing them to focus on the negative aspects of foreign countries and achieve identity affirmation. International tourism also allows Chinese citizens to demonstrate to the world their economic prowess and the modern Chinese identity to foreigners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConsumer Culture Theory in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationHistory and Contemporary Issues
EditorsYuko Minowa, Russell Belk
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781003111559
ISBN (Print)9780367629496, 9780367629502
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Frontiers in the Development of International Business, Management and Marketing

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