Shanzhai products in everyday life: Ethnographic fieldwork in China
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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AbstractIn China, authentic and shanzhai (which is related to English words of copy, fake, counterfeit and grassroots) products coexist. Widely used by a large amount of Chinese users, shanzhai products that play a significant role in users’ everyday life have integrated in the Chinese society. My master thesis is an ethnographic research to investigate shanzhai phenomenon from the perspective of users. In my work, I aim to write a “thick description” (Geertz, 1973) in details of the situated behaviors of shanzhai users focusing on everyday use of particular product categories, as well as users’ perceptions. Therefore, the materiality of use and users will be described through real-life stories of my informants and their cultural context. By doing so, shanzhai products will not be over-simplified merely as “brand-alike products with lower price”, but rather as the extensions of the user (subject) who purchases and uses particular shanzhai product categories in a socially accepted way in which s/he carefully enacts the identity, solicits comfort, pride and avoids anxiety, shame.
Thesis advisorKeinonen, Turkka
shanzhai, everyday life, consumption, ethnography