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Grant number like: FT-55791-08

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Beth E. Notar
Trinity College (Hartford, CT 06106-3100)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2008 – 6/30/2008

Auto-biographies: Car Consumption and Social Mobility in China

This project will investigate the relationship between car consumption and social mobility in China. In order to understand how individuals conceptualize and perform their "place" in China's rapidly changing physical and socioeconomic landscape, I will collect "auto-biographies" (personal narratives of car use and consumption) to understand "auto-mobility" (the use of cars in relation to aspirations of upward social mobility). How do people talk about and demonstrate their socioeconomic status? The project seeks to demonstrate the ways in which social distinction is manifested through car consumption. It will contribute to a nascent anthropology of car cultures, the anthropology of consumption, as well as to the study of contemporary Chinese culture. More broadly, the project will contribute to an understanding of the ways in which people narrate the relationship between self, consumption, and mobility, particularly in the transition from socialist to market systems.