In the post-Maoist era, China adopted a strategy for investing in the “quality” of its people—through education and training opportunities—that created talented labor. In her significant ethnographic study, Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China, Lisa Hoffman explains why the development of “human capital” is seen as fundamental for economic growth and national progress. She examines these new urban employees, who were deemed vital to the success of the global city in China, and who hoped for social mobility, a satisfying career, and perhaps a family.
Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China addresses the emergence of this urban professional subject in Dalian, a port city in China. Hoffman identifies who these new professionals are, what choices they have made, and how they have remained closely connected with the nation—although not necessarily the Communist party—leading to a new social form she calls “Patriotic Professionalism.”
Hoffman contributes to the understanding of changing urban life in China while providing an analysis of the country’s “late-socialist neoliberalism.” In the process, she asks pressing questions about how such shifts in urban life reshape cities, impact individual and family decisions, and reflect economic growth in China in tandem with “global” neoliberal practices.