Food, Home and Family-Making in Contemporary Guangzhou

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Food is central to everyday family life in Chinese society, and in return, Chinese family cultures have a significant influence on daily food practices. This thesis considers the emergent relationships between the domestic and food consumption in contemporary urban China for Xiaokang (middle-level) households. Focused on Guangzhou (the largest city in south China), it explores the relations between everyday food practices, home cultures and the process of Xiaokang family-making. It argues that these relationships are socially significant, emotionally charged and politically contested. More specifically, topics addressed include contemporary ideals for home design; emotional family life and memory; family relationships (both conjugal and inter-generational); and the relations between the domestic and the public. The main findings also portray how Xiaokang households maintain and extend their social networks through home- or family-based food consumption; and they foreground the importance of internal migration in the geographical understanding of the connections between home-making, mobility and consumer cultures in the Chinese context. These issues are discussed via empirical materials generated through in-depth qualitative fieldwork with 27 households. More broadly, the thesis contributes to existing scholarship on: the geographies of home; the role of food practices in family-making; the recent changes in Chinese family lives and home cultures; and contemporary developments in Chinese urban consumer cultures. Moreover, this research indicates that future studies on consumer cultures in the Chinese context should pay more attention to both intergenerational and gender relations.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Crang, Philip, Supervisor
  • Brickell, Katherine, Advisor
Award date1 May 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


  • Food practices
  • Everyday life
  • Home
  • Family life
  • China

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