Construction of Cantonese Popular Bourgeois Bohemians (Canton-pop bobos) in Hong Kong

By Ming-chun Sinn and Kwun-hung Li.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The term, bourgeois bohemian (bobo), is Brook’s (2000) famous coinage to refer to the 1990s descendants of the yuppies. In this article, drawing on the notions of “hegemony” (Gramsci, 1971); “Chinese fatsos” and “urban imaginary” (Wang, 2005a, 2005b, 2005c), we aim to construct another portmanteau term “Canton-pop bobos” in which Cantonese popular culture from below imposes a notion of dynamic cultural consumption which, at times, leads to the reaction force that media consumers can find their way out of the hegemonic control from above, and in due process, market segmentation is essential. That is, Canton-pop bobos are sold by the intensity of the global economic factor of marketing. Conspicuous consumption is however not only shaped by class convention or hegemonic advertising control from above, but also by the soulness of individual wants, desires, preferences, and of course, purchasing power. In other words, the Cantonese youth take ownership of their consumer behavior through the veil of Canton-pop bobos.

Keywords: Canton-pop Bobos, Youth Culture, Hegemony, Chinese Fatsos, Urban Imaginary, Cultural Production and Consumption, Market Segmentation

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp.83-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 589.780KB).

Ming-chun Sinn

Junior Research Assistant, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Attaining distinctions on such undergraduate courses as “Globalization and Politics” and “Business and Culture”, Anson Ming-chun SINN is interested in reading articles on cultural production and consumption, cultural identities, and Canton-pop cultural literacy. His latest conference presentation was at the 17th International Conference on Learning on a student-poet’s story using discourse analytical approach. Keen on creative journalism, he once held the post of Chief Editor for his high school newspaper, Whats’Up (, and Netter (, a blog under the project “Platforms for Language Teacher Education” launched by the Faculty of Education, CUHK. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for several leading research journals, including The International Journal of Learning, The International Journal of the Book, The International Journal of The Humanities, The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, The International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, and The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management.

Kwun-hung Li

Part-time Lecturer, Yijin Project, Caritas Tuen Mun Community Education Centre, Hong Kong

Graduated with B.A. (English Studies) and B.Ed. (Hons) (English Language Education) from CUHK and HKIEd, he is interested in doing research pertaining to learner motivation, individual differences and ESL writing. In mid-2008 and mid-2009, he was recruited by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) as a Territory-wide system Assessment (TSA) Administration Assistant. Keen on speaking and debating, he once held the post of the President for HKIEd Student Union Toastmasters Club (2007-08); Course coordinator for Public Speaking and Communication Course at Shaw College, CUHK (2008); Assistant Division Governor (Marketing) for Division K, District 80, Toastmasters International (2008-09); as well as Assistant Division Governor (Education and Training) for Division K, District 80, Toastmasters International (2009-10). Dedicated to community services, he is now Grade I Officer of Hong Kong Auxiliary Medical Service (2009-present). Inspired in educational field, he is now teaching junior and senior forms English Language in a secondary school in Hong Kong. He is also pursuing an M.A. (English Language Teaching) in part-time mode at CUHK.


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