Inequality in China: emotional costs and political risks

Hosted by the Department of Media and Communications

Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building,


Professor Wanning Sun

Professor Wanning Sun

Dr Bingchun Meng



Professor Robin Mansell

Four decades of economic reform have transformed China into one of the most unequal countries in the world. Economic inequality and social stratification are easy to demonstrate, but the emotional costs of inequality for marginalised individuals—not to mention its political risks for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—are little understood. This talk explores how socioeconomic inequality shapes the intimate lives of those who bear the brunt of China’s most intractable problems of inequality: China’s young rural migrants.

Drawing on her longitudinal ethnographic work in China, Professor Sun uses media and culture to explore how inequality is experienced at the level of individual affect, and how it is managed by the CCP as a political risk. She demonstrates the intrinsic interplay between symbolic and socioeconomic marginalisation, and argues for a much needed affective turn in inequality studies.

Wanning Sun is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of Technology Sydney, Australia.

Bingchun Meng is Associate Professor and Deputy Head, Department of Media and Communications, LSE.

Robin Mansell is Professor of New Media and the Internet and Head of Department, Media and Communications.

The Department of Media and Communications (@MediaLSE) undertakes outstanding and innovative research and provides excellent research-based graduate programmes for the study of media and communications. The Department was established in 2003 and in 2014 our research was ranked number 1 in the most recent UK research evaluation, with 91% of research outputs ranked world-leading or internationally excellent.

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