individuals and social structure

This assignment is one of the weekly discussion note I made for ANP 415 course on contemporary Chinese social structures. This particular note focuses on Matthew Kohrman’s article on tobacco control in the city of Kunming and how the government was using the concept of “Risk Society” for the tobacco regulation.

Kohrman’s risk society theory is quite interesting to think about under the context of modern Chinese history, especially during the post-Mao era. This sense of individual self-awareness, self-regulation, and sense of vulnerability can be applied into government policy in order to regulate and improve the conditions of public health and moral values. This mindset, according to Kohrman, was greatly influenced by the later globalization and the following process of privatization in contemporary China, as the idea of individualism was greatly boosted by the market reform and economic growth, while the previous bond between individual and a collective identity was weakened. This idea of risk society was generally embedded in various forms of media like TV advertisements and street billboards.

However, the Risk Society rhetoric did not prove to be a valid tool to completely regulate tobacco usages in urban area, the reason was also connected to individualism – as more and more people are willing to admit their lack of self-regulatory, and they would eventually ignore all those billboards and advertisements about tobacco control, these citizens even include government officials themselves. Therefore, this is really an interesting case that connect individual ways of using tobacco with the governmental regulation, while indicates the one particular social issue of the privatizing China nowadays.