Evaluating Class and Sexuality: Money Boys in Contemporary China

Lu, Chia-hung Ben. 2013. Evaluating Class and Sexuality: Money Boys in Contemporary China. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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This research aims to examine the lived experiences of Money Boys (MBs), male-to-male prostitutes, in the People’s Republic of China, by asking, as a result of their experience, if issues of class and sexuality should be critically inspected in today’s Chinese culture, and whether new gendered/classed subjects are being generated. Based on the fieldwork that I researched in Shanghai, this thesis uses the analytical lens of “value/s” by interrogating how specific values are produced through new political economic apparatus—namely neo-liberalism and its relationship to traditional and socialist values. The thesis asks why some values have become significant to the forms of cultural and economic exchange performed by Money Boys. Using participant observation and in-depth interviews obtained in a brothel, bars and cruising parks, the data makes visible the ways in which different values are put into effect by the Money Boys by accessing resources from their working class backgrounds and bodies. Specifically the thesis shows how Money Boys problematise emergent Chinese homosexual identity which is currently normalised by urban citizens and the State. It also shows how Money Boys redefine the concept of cosmopolitanism to describe how they imagine and shape their future.

Taken as a whole, this research proposes that there is an urgent need to reconsider how Chinese society is configured through the contemporary formation of material struggles, including the rural and urban polarisation and class relations of the newly rich and migrant poor. It demonstrates that materiality organises the ways in which values are redistributed and performed differently by different classed/gendered subjects. Money Boys, and their lived experiences, offer a critical way to illuminate how performing value in today’s China is a dynamic, contested process and how sex work complicates value formation through the sexualised body.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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30 August 2013

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Date Deposited:

26 Sep 2013 13:39

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2018 13:43



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