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Title: New farmers, multiple modernities and alternative social worlds in Shanghai
Author: Pang, Leo
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 0450
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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In the face of rampant food safety scandals and environmental pollution affecting the Chinese food supply, a new breed of farmer has appeared in China: Middle-class farmers who gave up white collar jobs in the city to return to peri-urban farmland to grow produce without using synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides and without organic certification. The farmers' produce has potential to be both a lucrative solution to the problem of food safety and also a means to build an alternative future for the farmers themselves and those who share their passion for their produce. Through participant-observing the way these farmers sell their produce, I shed light on the farmers' views on consumers, the strategies that they use to attract potential customers and who they choose to collaborate with to sell their produce and why. I show how these farmers are seeking to create a social world with their customers that is an alternative to the consumerist society based on instrumental and utilitarian relations that much of middle-class China inhabits. The farmers' goals are reflected in their judgments of potential customers, and the challenges that they face when they engage with different collaborators from activists to businessmen and marketing and public relations executives in order to sell produce. The different practices of the farmers compared to their collaborators in selling their produce are indicative of different views of modernity - either as an alternative to consumerism, a continuation of conventional capitalistic modernity or a combination of both. The farmers' navigation of different visions of modernity and their aspirations to build an alternative social world shows that growing and then selling ecological produce is an ongoing challenge of negotiation between often contradicting beliefs about Chinese society and China's path of modernity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral