China has seen a tremendous economic growth during the last three decades. With a renewed focus on economic development in the reform era, increased domestic consumption has been both natural and important for the Chinese government. The increased focus on material goods has led to the appearance of consumerism and individualism in the country. China is becoming an individualised society; a society where individuals are becoming more and more self-dependent. Chinese individuals have welcomed these new opportunities for self-expression, and embraced shopping as well as a consumer culture. Consumption and self-definition through the accumulation of commodities has become important for large parts of the population. In an individualised society, social stratification is increasingly defined by lifestyle and consumption. Consumption signifies both your social status and personal identity.
This thesis have found that Chinese individuals are taking to new consumption habits, the urban young are spending more and are seemingly not too worried about their future. Individuals are increasingly attaching importance to their own wants and preferences regarding consumption and lifestyle. Branded goods, and their role as status carriers, are still important, but I will argue that other considerations are starting to prevail. Considerations of personal style and individual identity are important among my informants. The middle class and the other individuals I interviewed in Xiamen are increasingly defining themselves through consumption, and are in effect consuming identities.