GLOBAL ASSIMILATION AND GLOBAL ALIENATION: LIVES OF PROFESSIONAL WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY CHINA
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This dissertation examines the careers and family lives of "professional, white-collar women" in contemporary China in order to understand the ways in which labor markets, state policies, and gender expectations affect these women's lives in an era of rapid globalization. Drawing on multidisciplinary methods including in-depth interviews with twenty women, content analyses of the biweekly, pop-culture magazine Zhiyin, and the literary analyses of two feminist novels, Wei Hui's Shanghai Baby (2001), and Mian Mian's Candy (2003), I discuss how professional women articulate the meaning of their careers and their family lives, and make sense of their experiences as part of China's path to globalization. Analyzing the ways that professional women construct themselves as "women,"--complying with traditional ideologies of womanhood that historically devalued their achievements in the workplace--I interrogate a category of identity, "professional white-collar women." Thus, I present how these "professional white-collar" women's experiences in their multinational workplaces show that their lives are intricately intertwined with the simultaneous process of being assimilated and alienated as a result of the globalization of China. By arguing that, for these women, instead of increasing their personal agency as independent individuals, their careers serve to develop their desire for materialism and capitalist modernity, I present the irony of China's participation in globalization.