The disappearance of community, work and everyday life in late capitalism: Private housing advertisements from 1961 to 2011 in global Hong Kong

Kimburley Wing Yee CHOI, Hau Nung Annie CHAN, Anita Kit Wa CHAN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

Abstract

Hong Kong has one of the least affordable housing markets in the world, but little is known about its housing advertisements, which constitute important discourses that shape the cultural ideal of homeownership. In many ways, Hong Kong’s property market represents that of other ‘global cities’, which are important nodes of global culture and capital flows. How do private property developers market housing in this context, where the nature of housing has developed from accommodation to investment/speculation? What can housing advertisements tell us about the nature of housing consumption, the role of the state and housing developers in a global city like Hong Kong? Using both content and textual analyses, this article presents findings from a longitudinal study of Hong Kong’s private housing newspaper advertisements between 1961 and 2011 and examines how and why representations of the ideal home have changed. Unlike the existing literature on housing advertisements which are mostly ideological critiques or socio-historical accounts of housing advertisements in consumer capitalism, our analysis utilises insights from Baudrillard’s political economy of the sign and Lipovetsky’s concept of hypermodernity. Our contextual and longitudinal analysis contributes to the existing literature by integrating temporality with the three modalities of housing consumption, that is, as living space, investment and financial speculation. We argue that from the late 1970s onwards, Hong Kong government policy actively promotes homeownership and a housing hierarchy discourse, as housing advertisements changed from emphasising functionalities and everyday living in 1961–1981, to privatised quality living in 1991–2001, and abstract living and ‘hyperindividualistic’ political subjectivity in 2011. By demonstrating the increased abstraction of living, the promotion of the hyperreal, and private housing as objects of financial speculation as evidenced in the construction of ideal homes, we illuminate key features of and inequalities associated with housing advertisements in a global city in neoliberal, late capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Early online date12 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2019

Keywords

  • Housing advertisements
  • content analysis
  • textual analysis
  • Hong Kong housing
  • housing inequality
  • late capitalism
  • sign economy
  • hyperreal
  • hypermodernity

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