Emotion and consumption: toward a new understanding of cultural collisions between Hong Kong and PRC luxury consumers

Annamma Joy, Russell W. Belk, Jeff Jianfeng Wang, John F. Sherry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Incorporating Illouz’s theory of emotions, this study examines how specific emotions drive consumption, as embodied by escalating conflicts between Hong Kong and the PRC luxury consumers. When affluent Mainlanders pursue status signifiers via consumption of relatively affordable luxury goods in Hong Kong, local residents’ disdain triggers a nexus of emotions: envy, resentment, and status anxiety, linked to fears of being occupied by and assimilated into Chinese culture. Deploying cultural capital and status competition rooted in imagination and refinement, Hong Kongese contrast their knowledge-based use of luxury brands with the avid consumption of PRC visitors, fueled by often extreme wealth. For Hong Kongese, such one-upmanship degenerates into self-doubt and self-failure in their image management attempts, precipitating intense hostility toward PRC consumers. Emotions engender colliding notions of self, status, and cultural and political identity between these disparate yet intertwined cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-597
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • adaptation strategies
  • cultural capital
  • emotions
  • friction and conflict
  • Luxury consumption
  • status competition

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