Negotiating the Middle: Interactions of Class, Gender and Consumerism Among the Middle-Class in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
AuthorHiggins, Rylan G.
Committee ChairAustin, Diane
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis urban ethnography examines the everyday lives of young adults participating in middle-class culture in Ho Chi Minh City. My analysis illuminates the motivations and processes by which middle-class people create a social and moral middleness. Middleness refers both to the experiences of this group and to the cultural space wherein individuals perform their gender-specific, consumption-driven roles and negotiate identities as modern Vietnamese people. In attempting to understand precisely how social class functions and is experienced, my analysis focuses on how it relates to other processes of identity formation (i.e. gender and consumerism). Doing so also requires that I call attention to the uneven, unstable impacts of globalizing processes and the importance of performativity. By arguing that class is best understood as a socio-cultural process and by confronting the myth of global cultural homogenization, I reveal important insights about what it means to be middle-class in Ho Chi Minh City. Individual and group responses to the city's ever-changing consumer society show people carrying out their lives in social and cultural systems that are fundamentally unfinished.