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Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China

Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China: Fostering Talent

Lisa M. Hoffman
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China
    Book Description:

    In the post-Maoist era, China adopted a strategy for investing in the "quality" of its people-through education and training opportunities-that createdtalentedlabor. In her significant ethnographic study,Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China, Lisa Hoffman explains why the development of "human capital" is seen as fundamental for economic growth and national progress. She examines these new urban employees, who were deemed vital to the success of the global city in China, and who hoped for social mobility, a satisfying career, and perhaps a family.

    Patriotic Professionalism in Urban Chinaaddresses the emergence of this urban professional subject in Dalian, a port city in China. Hoffman identifies who these new professionals are, what choices they have made, and how they have remained closely connected with the nation-although not necessarily the Communist party-leading to a new social form she calls "Patriotic Professionalism."

    Hoffman contributes to the understanding of changing urban life in China while providing an analysis of the country's "late-socialist neoliberalism." In the process, she asks pressing questions about how such shifts in urban life reshape cities, impact individual and family decisions, and reflect economic growth in China in tandem with "global" neoliberal practices.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0036-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Talent in the Global City: Preparing Dalian for the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 1-28)

    “In the global knowledge economy, people’s skills, learning, talents and attributes—their human capital—have become key to both their ability to earn a living and to wider economic growth” (Keeley 2007). This quote from a recent Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) publication reiterates what has become commonsense to many around the world: “Human capital” development is fundamental for economic growth and social progress. Few nations, cities, or development agencies question the link between talented human resources and local prosperity. Even in times of economic crisis, politicians have referred to workers as a fundamental of the economy that...

  5. 2 Refiguring Dalian
    (pp. 29-51)

    The administration of Dalian’s Free Trade Zone, a bonded area in the Economic and Technical Development Zone that is forty-five minutes from the city center, has published investment brochures for potential foreign investors. Similar to marketing materials found in cities across China and elsewhere in the world, these cultural texts offer legible images of reform-era urban coastal spaces. The image on the cover of one Free Trade Zone brochure from the mid-1990s clearly displays the repositioning of Dalian as a global city that is situated in national and non-Chinese networks of capital and culture (Figure 2.1). The cover’s background is...

  6. 3 Cultivating Talent
    (pp. 52-80)

    On the fourth floor of the main building on Dalian University of Technology’s (DUT) campus, directly behind a grand statue of Mao Zedong, was the graduate employment office (biyesheng jiuye bangongshi) where I first began a series of discussions on the changing role of universities in job placement. That morning in 1995, I listened to Director Xie Baihua explain through the cigarette smoke that his office engaged in “service work” instead of the implementation of central government plans. “Our work is now about graduates’ careers and helping them with professional planning—not about assignments,” he said. “The system we use...

  7. 4 Patriotic Professionalism
    (pp. 81-102)

    On a cold December morning in 2003, a colleague and I went to the building at Liberation Square that houses the offices of Dalian’s talent exchange center. When we arrived, guards at the main entrance checked our credentials before allowing us to enter without buying a ticket. We wound our way around people in the lobby who were talking with others, reading newspaper job listings and company promotions, and watching opportunities scroll down on a large electronic wall screen. On the left was a small bookstore with materials about how to find an appropriate job, how to develop one’s management...

  8. 5 Turning Culture into Profit
    (pp. 103-120)

    It was a beautiful August day when I went to talk with two personnel managers at a large, three-party Sino-Japanese real estate joint venture. Its offices were near the beach, and with a little hunting I found them on the second floor of a back building that had a great breeze off the water and a wonderful view. The managers and I spoke at length about how they made hiring decisions for office and service positions in the company. Wu Xueming, a fashionable woman in her mid-thirties and slightly younger than her male colleague, elaborated on their impressions of the...

  9. 6 Gendering Security and the State in Urban China
    (pp. 121-141)

    When I met Liu Lihua soon before her graduation from Dalian University of Technology (DUT), she was facing a job choice between a foreign company where she was working in a temporary position and the municipal tax bureau where her father had used connections to find her a job (ta tuole hen duo renqing). Each had its advantages: The foreign company offered her the chance to “use her knowledge” and the “potential to develop herself,” while the government office provided security and stability “for a young woman.” Liu explained:

    Everyone says it [the taxation bureau] is a good job for...

  10. 7 Going Forward: China, Neoliberalism, and Economic Crises
    (pp. 142-148)

    I begin with this quote from the World Bank ReportChina and the Knowledge Economy: Seizing the 21st Century, published just prior to China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, for a reason. The logic in the report clearly supports China’s post-Mao emphasis on developing the nation’s human resources and raising the quality of the population. The report provides numerous recommendations to China about how to develop its “human capital” and the kinds of governmental changes that are needed for success in the twenty-first century, such as less governmental “control” of labor markets, decentralization of decision making, and utilization of...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 149-166)
  12. Glossary of Chinese Terms
    (pp. 167-170)
  13. References
    (pp. 171-200)
  14. Index
    (pp. 201-206)