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Learning Hong Kong's body: Beauties, beauty workers and their identities

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Chapter Summary

The allure of beauty is perhaps part of human nature and is found in every culture. The politico-economic and cultural implications of cosmetology have expanded to such an extent that its intrinsic value and significance have gone far beyond the mere physical. Based on field data collected in southern China, this chapter focuses on the liberating potential and social and individual controls that are inherent in the practice of cosmetology. The chapter seeks to interpret the cultural meaning of cosmetology in South China through ethnographic methods. Based on a cultural studies perspective, it argues that cosmetology is a profession much akin to other culture industries, and that it is highly dictated by the political economy of the society. The Western cosmetology business and institutes in Hong Kong have to constantly offer exchangeable knowledge to maintain their commercial value and social status.

Keywords: Hong Kong; political economy; southern China; Western cosmetology



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