Learning About Social Class Issues in Shanghai

Mar 17, 2016 8:30:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_spring2016_From_Daniel_Thompson.jpgDaniel Thompson is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A sociology major at Lebanon Valley College, he is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.

In this week's post, Daniel shares his thoughts on the issue of social class status that plays a powerful role in Chinese society.


Lately, I've been finding myself sitting by the riverside of ECNU and thinking about the moments in life that shape the character of who we will become in the future. We get so caught up in day-to-day life and trying to develop a facade of neatness, that it allows us to forget about the little things that matter the most.


This week was a very busy and stressful time for me. I finally figured out my internship and school schedule. I’m taking three classes and interning as an international consultant for a firm with my partner and friend Sally who is also studying abroad. The placement seems like it will be a fun one, but also challenging. We have to find geographic and legal regulations in LA to help build a multi-million dollar condo.


In one of this week's classes, we had a discussion on the idea of social class, and how many Chinese hide their real status by trying to fit in with the rich and famous. For instance, they buy designer clothes and accessories from other countries just to say they came from the Italy or the United States. A face mask to prevent breathing in smog is also a huge deal when it comes to being able to tell the wealth of someone else.


When the professor was telling the class about these issues, I realized that social class is a universal problem. Even in the United States, we tend to look at how someone presents themselves and hold stigmas about his or her qualities. For example, one may look at what type of car someone is driving and label them as being part of a certain social class. I feel it is unfair that we label one another based on what products someone can afford or what brand a person likes to wear. The class dialogue presented me with a very interesting but troubling topic. It brought perspective on the power of labels and how our views can lead to labeling.

Thanks Daniel!

Daniel's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned. 

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Topics: Shanghai, China, Academics Abroad