Everyday Masculinities in 21st-Century China

The Making of Able-Responsible Men


Magdalena Wong

ISBN : 978-988-8528-42-4

Cultural Studies, Gender Studies Transnational Asian Masculinities 跨國亞洲男性氣質叢書

May 2020

176 pages, 6″ x 9″, 5 b/w illus. and 1 map

  • HK$400.00

Everyday Masculinities in 21st-Century China: The Making of Able-Responsible Men argues that a moral dimension in Chinese masculinity is of growing significance in fast-changing China. ‘Able-responsible men’—those who can create wealth and shoulder responsibilities—have replaced the ‘moneyed elite’ of the earlier reform-and-opening-up era as the dominant male ideal. With vivid and highly readable case studies, Wong presents a compelling account of the forces that coerce men to live up to the able-responsible standard. She demonstrates the impact this pressure has on the lives of not only boys and men, but also on women, and shows how it invites both complicit and resistant reactions. The book lays bare the socio-political context that nurtures the cultural expressions of hegemonic masculinity under the rule of Xi Jinping. The president himself has emerged in public consciousness as the embodiment of the ideal able-responsible man.

Based on anthropological fieldwork in Nanchong, Sichuan, the book provides new perspectives on many topical issues that China faces. These include urbanization, labour migration, the one-child policy, love and marriage, gender and intergenerational dynamics, hierarchical male relationships, and the rise of mass displays of nationalism.

Magdalena Wong is an independent scholar who transitioned to academia as an accomplished practitioner in marketing research. She graduated with a PhD in anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2017.

‘In this richly informative book, Dr Wong gives us an intimate picture of masculinities in a contemporary Chinese city. She explores the role of wealth in definitions of masculinity, the moral dimension in gender imagery, the changing desires of women, and the role of the state—including a striking account of the gender strategies of President Xi. More than a local study, this book provides valuable ideas for understanding gender, men, and masculinities in the contemporary world.’ —Raewyn Connell, University of Sydney

‘Magdalena Wong asks wonderful, original questions. Her study might be one of the most pioneering investigations into Chinese family relations I have read. The strength of her book lies in its insight into kinship and cultural continuities and changes. The rich, nuanced case studies can make her book become an important addition to our ongoing studies on Chinese family.’ —William Jankowiak, University of Nevada, Las Vegas