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Globalized Childhood? Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing. Eriberto P. Lozada, Jr. As presented by Naomi Wente. Focus:. Transnationalism: the flow of ideas, products, people, capital, and technologies across national boundaries

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globalized childhood kentucky fried chicken in beijing

Globalized Childhood?Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing

Eriberto P. Lozada, Jr.

As presented by Naomi Wente

  • Transnationalism: the flow of ideas, products, people, capital, and technologies across national boundaries
    • Growing power of corporations –sometimes considered a major cause of cultural disruption in developing countries
  • Examine US-based Kentucky Fried Chicken
    • Success of such fast-food restaurants
    • What children eat is a fundamental part of their socialization
    • Localization

“There are now many visible markers of homogenization because of a more integrated global system of production and consumption, there has also been a dramatic expansion in particularism, as competing claims for cultural identity and authenticity have become more strident.”

transnational corporations
Transnational Corporations
  • Provide institutional support for the movement of people, goods, and ideas across national boundaries
  • Have existed for as long as there have been nations
  • Gained influence over the years
  • Created a global system of interdependence
  • Must understand these connections to understand the social fabric of everyday life.
kfc transnationalism
KFC + Transnationalism
  • KFC in Beijing as an entry point of transnationalism
  • Requirement: to see KFC as a socially constructed locality of consumption
  • Opening of first branch in 1987
  • Operations since then have become more “domesticated”
    • Formerly exotic, imported food transformed into a familiar and intimate type of cuisine
  • Forced “localization”- innovations and modifications made by KFC in reaction to local competition and to a growing understanding of the place of children in China
chicky or qiqi
“Chicky” (or Qiqi)
  • Rejected old Colonel Sanders
  • New icon: “Chicky”
    • Introduced in 1995
    • Fun, kid-oriented
    • Marketing technique
  • Kids love eating at KFC restaurants: regular customers
  • Fun and exciting place to eat
  • Kid-friendly
  • Birthday party introduction (1995): consumers
chicken politics
Chicken Politics
  • “Results with integrity”- no standard way to cook chicken, flexibility to mold to local market and work with government
  • KFC launched its operations from the political power center of Beijing vs. other economic centers
  • Decentralized operations
  • In order for KFC to succeed in any given society it must be firmly grounded in that society.
  • Local managers draw on support service of the corporation
cock fight
“Cock fight”
  • Competition- Ronghaji demonstrated that Chinese entrepreneurs could employ Western technology and create an industry with “Chinese characteristics”
  • KFC did not obliterate China’s culinary traditions- instead it stimulated a local discourse on national heritage
    • 1987- 40% of food imported
    • 1991- 3% of food imported (11 secret herbs and spices)
  • Origin of fast food in China
    • Thousands of years ago as stuffed buns and rice rolls
    • Street food venders
    • Idea wholly imported from US
growth of fast food
Growth of fast food
  • Want for modernization = desire to eat Western food
  • Spread of KFC and also McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Brownies, etc
  • Marketing increases
    • Standardized, mechanized cooking, concern for hygiene, uniformed staff member mopping floor
  • Food poisoning scare outside of fast food = safe haven
  • Catering for government/other institutions
  • Ability to choose different types of food
  • Also growth of fast life style pace
  • Most telling: KFC company loosing status as a “hot topic”
  • Novelty fading
  • Patrons eat there for more of a convenience
  • Being Western wasn’t enough- need to offer more variety- uniqueness of products (offering spicy chicken sandwich not offered in US)
young consumers
Young consumers
  • Important role in stratification of the Chinese childhood
  • Partnerships with schools, teachers, and parents
  • Single child policy- parents willing to spend more money
  • Toys and décor attracts kids
  • Spread of TV watching + advertisements
conclusion globalized childhood
Conclusion: Globalized Childhood?
  • Kids draw parents in to KFC to eat fast food, taste modernity, and to have fun. By doing so, they are drawing their elders into an intersection of local society and transnationalism.
  • Not a passive relationship in which a transnational organization like KFC dictates lessons to be mastered by the natives.
  • Both local residents and KFC are linked in a network of social relations.
  • KFC has had to adapt to expectations and demands of customers in non-standard ways
  • Domesticated and localized through the input of local people (managers and kid consumers)
conclusion globalized childhood continued
Conclusion: Globalized Childhood? Continued
  • Kids live in a deterritorialized space that can be viewed as a sort of globalized childhood culture
  • Resulting culture is not a single, homogenized global children’s culture--- there is not a vacuum
  • Culture is embedded in particular networks of social relations and historical contexts.
  • Particularism becomes possible due to specialization
  • KFC restaurants may appear as one of the hallmarks of globalization, but on closer inspection, the success of KFC has depended on the ability to become local, as an integral part of Beijing children’s social life.
  • Success = ability to become intelligible to people in their local social context.
the end
The End…. ?
  • Satisfying?
  • What about the pros and cons?
  • No passionate conclusion
  • Is a globalized childhood a good thing?
  • Many missing puzzle pieces