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This paper aims to examine how the official discourse of frugality evolved in China between 1979 and 2015.Design/methodology/approachThe study uses historical and textual analysis. It divides the Chinese official discourse on frugality between 1979 and 2015 into four periods: 1979-1992, 1993-2002, 2003-2012 and 2013-2015.FindingsA Chinese official discourse on frugality persisted between 1979 and 2015, even though during the same period, China transformed from a socialist economy of central planning and insufficient supply to a market economy of excessive supply and weak consumer demand. The intensity of this official discourse frequently vacillated, adjusting to both economic and political conditions of the time as part of the larger political-economic contestation between competing ideas and policies.Originality/valueThere have been calls for more studies on how frugality discourses have evolved in international markets, especially in terms of how they are shaped by local historical antecedents and long-standing tensions. Through the Chinese case, this article illuminates why some traditional values persist and obtain a paradoxical co-existence with consumerist ethos in our modern society.
Journal of Historical Research in Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 14, 2018
Keywords: China; Anti-consumption; Frugality; Official discourse
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