About

As I walk the streets and roam the web of China, I share snapshots from my fieldwork on Bytes of China. My list of longer thought pieces can be found on my Writing Page

I am currently living in China, following students and migrants as they process information and desire, remaking cities and rural areas. I investigate media and memes in their collisions with markets, governments, and local thugs.   [More about Bytes of China.]

Here's a video of the most recent talk I gave about my research at LIFT in Geneva, Switzerland, "Dancing with Handcuffs: The Geography of Trust in Social Networks". In this talk, I analyze the changing conceptions of trust through the story of a college student who threw shoes and eggs at the government official who oversees internet censorship in China. 

Read more about my research. My analysis of culture and technology can be found on Cultural Bytes. And my personal blog is Hi Tricia.

The views expressed on this blog do not in any way reflect the position of any of my funders, past employers, the Chinese government, the US government or the Fulbright program. 

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My research is generously funded though a mix of university grant programs, state initiatives, or industry research.

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Friday
Jun012012

Luxury is in the eye of the beholder

VC and Farmer

When I was in Beijing, I met with a well known VC. She retired from her work in the US and now lives in China managing a fund. During our conversation about investing in start ups, she said something that really stood out to me. She said,

“I live in luxury now. I don’t have to spend time with people i don’t like. I have complete freedom to chose who I spend my time with.”

Then I went to rural western Hunan. I was chatting with a farmer in a super rural and economically poor village in the mountains. We were in the middle of a conversation about how much money her kids (who are migrants in shenzhen) send to her every month and how she spends the money. I asked her if she had plans to move to the city when she’s older. She replied,

“I have complete freedom here to spend my time as I wish. If i want to farm, I farm, If i want to see my neighbors, i see them. I dont have to be around people i don’t like. I’m so free here, I will never move.”

I thought it was incredible how both the VC and farmer defined luxury. What’s your definition of luxury? 

(Side note - just earlier during the convo the farmer— a 50 yr old female—has to cook 2 meals a day for husband & others. She was complaining how the males won’t even stand up to get chopsticks - she has to deliver it to them!). 

References (6)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Luxury is in the eye of the beholder - Bytes of China - Tricia Wang [ethnographer & sociologist researching cellphones and computers in China & Mexico]
  • Response
    Response: shoes
    Luxury is in the eye of the beholder - Bytes of China - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Luxury is in the eye of the beholder - Bytes of China - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Response: shoes
    Luxury is in the eye of the beholder - Bytes of China - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Luxury is in the eye of the beholder - Bytes of China - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Luxury is in the eye of the beholder - Bytes of China - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets

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