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This book offers the first ethnographic account of the experiences of highly educated young professional women, hailed by the Chinese media as ‘white-collar beauties’. Author Dr Jieyu Liu from SOAS exposes the organisational mechanisms – naturalisation, objectification and commodification of women – that wield gendered and sexual control in post-Mao workplaces.
While men benefit from symbolic and bureaucratic power, female professionals skilfully enact indirect power in a game of domination and resistance.
The sources of women’s subversion are grounded in their only-child upbringing which breaks the patrilineal base of familial patriarchy. This fosters an unprecedented ambition in personal development, the belief in gender as inherently relational and a role-oriented system, with inner-outer cultural boundaries as signifiers of moral agency.
This raises a new feminist inquiry about the agents for social change. Through a nuanced analysis grounded in socio-cultural locality, this book throws fresh light upon the ways in which gender, sexuality and power could be theorized beyond a Euro-American reality.
This event is free and open to all.
Non-University of Westminster attendees: please register in advance with James Dyke at [email protected]

About the speaker 

Dr Jieyu Liu is Reader in Sociology of China and Deputy Director at the SOAS China Institute. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, family and generation in China. She is the author of Gender and Work in Urban China: Women Workers of the Unlucky Generation (Routledge) and co-editor of East Asian Sexualities: Modernity, Gender and New Sexual Cultures (Zed Books).
In 2015, she was awarded a five-year European Research Council grant to examine changing family relations in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.