Leisure & Travel as Class Signifier: Distinction Practices of China's New Rich

Along with its open-door policy and economic reforms, wealth accumulation in China has experienced tremendous growth in a short time. Notably, a group of new rich has emerged in the process of wealth and social reconfiguration. Being rich creates tremendous possibilities for individuals to tailor their leisure activities and lifestyles. Situating individuals’ travel in the overall spectrum of leisure, this study explores the distinction practices adopted by China’s new rich at leisure sites. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with 29 China’s High Net Wealth individuals. The findings discover the spectrum of highbrow–lowbrow tastes occurring at leisure sites with three patterns of leisure constructions: conspicuous waste, conspicuous taste, and lifestyle. Supplementing Veblen and Bourdieu’s traditions, the study further deepens scholars’ comprehension of social distinction in tourism academia.

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Research Methods in Tourism Studies

Nankai University