- Desiring singlehood?
- Rural migrant women and affective labour in the Shanghai beauty parlour industry
- Inter-Asia Cultural Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
This article studies rural migrant women working in the Shanghai beauty
parlour industry, focusing on how this industry emphasises affective labour and articulates it along lines of migration, gender and seniority. The analysis looks at three types of female beauty workers: apprentices, senior beauticians, and entrepreneurs. Bringing together Hardt and Negri’s (2004) theorisation of affective labour and Yang Jie’s (2011) notion of aesthetic labour, this article investigates how the affective and aesthetic labour demanded from these migrant women affects their minds and bodies, and their position and value in the marriage market. On the basis of fieldwork conducted in Shanghai, the article begins by exploring the ways in which the demand of Shanghai beauty parlour industry for affective labour impacts the ability of rural migrant women to enter into other forms of affective relationships. It goes on to argue that affective labour in this industry is not wholly negative, but modifies bodies and minds in ways that can be both oppressive and enabling, depending on, among other things, the beauty worker’s level of seniority. Finally, the article proposes that, in the beauty parlour industry, there is a reciprocality with affective labour that includes the workers as well as the clients.
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