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Neoliberalism has been widely criticised in the anthropological literature. While acknowledging its negative impacts, this study argues that the adoption of neoliberal mechanisms and ethos may contribute to the betterment of individual wellbeing in certain circumstances. Drawing from a group of Chinese rural migrant e-commerce traders’ entrepreneurial experiences, this study finds that they have acquired material benefits, techno-cultural capital, and a certain degree of political independence by taking advantage of the growing neoliberal e-commerce market and by practising a neoliberal ethos. The acquired resources enable these traders, formerly considered lower-class, to assert their status and dignity in Chinese society, and ultimately help them achieve a good life. In exploring how neoliberal elements may work to improve ordinary people's life conditions, this study offers a more balanced assessment of neoliberalism in its everyday manifestations.
The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology – Taylor & Francis
Published: May 27, 2023
Keywords: Neoliberalism; E-commerce; Entrepreneurship; Good Life; China
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