Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China’s New Rich

Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China’s New Rich [Paperback]

John Osburg (Author)

Anxious Wealth

Publication Date: April 3, 2013

Who exactly are China’s new rich? This pioneering investigation introduces readers to the private lives—and the nightlives—of the powerful entrepreneurs and managers redefining success and status in the city of Chengdu. Over the course of more than three years, anthropologist John Osburg accompanied, and in some instances assisted, wealthy Chinese businessmen as they courted clients, partners, and government officials.

Drawing on his immersive experiences, Osburg invites readers to join him as he journeys through the new, highly gendered entertainment sites for Chinese businessmen, including karaoke clubs, saunas, and massage parlors—places specifically designed to cater to the desires and enjoyment of elite men. Within these spaces, a masculinization of business is taking place. Osburg details the complex code of behavior that governs businessmen as they go about banqueting, drinking, gambling, bribing, exchanging gifts, and obtaining sexual services.

These intricate social networks play a key role in generating business, performing social status, and reconfiguring gender roles. But many entrepreneurs feel trapped by their obligations and moral compromises in this evolving environment. Ultimately, Osburg examines their deep ambivalence about China’s future and their own complicity in the major issues of post-Mao Chinese society—corruption, inequality, materialism, and loss of trust.Editorial Reviews


Anxious Wealth provides a close up view of the elite networks that criss-cross China’s state/society divide, generate new forms of masculinity, and compel members to enact particular moral codes. Osburg’s depiction is simultaneously critical and sympathetic, theoretically deft and ethnographically rich—a compelling anthropological portrait.”—Andrew Kipnis, The Australian National University


“John Osburg’s arguments about the constitution of elite networks, the relational morality that structures those networks, and the profound importance of gender to male power in China are thought-provoking, compelling and provocative. Osburg takes us into a world of deal-making and networking that is often, literally, hidden behind curtains and closed doors. This book is a must-read for people seeking to better understand how power operates in China today.”—Amy Hanser, University of British Columbia

Anxious Wealth is a compelling narrative of China’s new rich, revealing the blurred boundaries of legality/illegality in the guanxi networks of private entrepreneurs, government officials, and state corporate managers. Osburg provides a valuable explanation of how masculinity, elite status, and wealth are stitched together in the leisure-cum-business activities of KTVs, saunas, and sex, thereby reframing notions of Chinese masculinity. This book offers a rare story of the interior, in Chengdu, Sichuan, giving readers another angle on the specificities by which capitalism is unfolding in China.”—Lisa Rofel, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

About the Author

John Osburg is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Rochester.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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