Neo-Tribes pp 51-67 | Cite as

A Coffeehouse Neo-Tribe in the Making: Exploring a Fluid Cultural Public Space in Post-Reform Chinese Urbanism

  • Zuyi Lv
  • Junxi Qian


Since the implementation of the Opening and Reform Policy, Chinese urbanism has witnessed the rise of a consumer society. As mindful and reflective social agents, consumers are engaged in the refashioning of collective values and identities through activities and practices of consumption. This chapter examines the zeal of young, wealthy and educated urbanites in the post-reform urban China for the coffeehouse, which is a locus of meeting between globalized meanings and locally mediated practices. Above all, the chapter asks whether coffeehouses, as lived habitus constituted by situated rituals, customs, codes and cultural meanings, contribute to the formation of collective values and identities that potentially lead us to identify coffeehouse consumers as a neo-tribe.



The authors would like to thank the National Science Foundation of China (Grant No: 41401139) for sponsoring the research.


  1. Adams, W. H. D. (2012). Good Queen Anne; or Men and Manners, Life and Letters in England’s Augustan Age, Volume 1. London: Hardpress Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Allsop, K. (1958). The Angry Decade: A Survey of the Cultural Revolt of the Nineteen Fifties. London: Peter Owen.Google Scholar
  3. Aubert-Gamet, V., & Cova, B. (1999). Servicesapes: From Modern Non-places to Postmodern Common Places. Journal of Business Research, 26(3), 37–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bao, Y. (2001). Bars of Shanghai: Space, Consumption and Imagination. Jiangsu: Jiangsu People’s Publishing House. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  5. Bauman, Z. (1997). Post-modernity and Its Discontents. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bauman, Z. (1998). Work, Consumerism and the New Poor. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bauman, Z. (2000). Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. Belk, R. W., Wallendorf, M., & Sherry, J. F. (1989). The Sacred and the Profane in Consumer Behaviour: Theodicy on the Odyssey. Journal of Consumer Research, 16(1), 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bennett, A. (1999). Subcultures of Neo-Tribes? Rethinking the Relationship Between Youth, Style and Musical Taste. Sociology, 33(53), 599–617.Google Scholar
  10. Bennett, A. (2011). The Post-subcultural Turn: Some Reflections 10 Years On. Journal of Youth Studies, 14(5), 493–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bourdieu, P. (1993). The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bourdieu, P. (1996). Understanding. Theory, Culture & Society, 13(2), 17–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Buchanan, J. M. (1965). An Economic Theory of Clubs. Economica, 32(125), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chaney, D. (1996). Lifestyles. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Connor, S. (1997). Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Cooper, S., McLoughlin, D., & Keating, A. (2005). Individual and Neo-Tribal Consumption: Tales from the Simpsons of Springfield. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 4(5), 330–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Coser, L. A. (1997). Men of Ideas: A Sociologist’s View. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  18. Cova, B., & Cova, V. (2002). Tribal Marketing: The Tribalisation of Society and Its Impact on the Conduct of Marketing. European Journal of Marketing, 36(5/6), 595–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Douglas, M. (1996). Thought Styles. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Eijck, K., & Bargeman, B. (2004). The Changing Impact of Social Background on Lifestyle: ‘Culturalization’ Instead of Individualization? Poetics, 32(6), 439–461.Google Scholar
  21. Ellis, A. (1956). The Penny Universities: A History of Coffee Houses. London: Secker & Warburg.Google Scholar
  22. Featherstone, M. (1987). Lifestyle and Consumer Culture. Theory, Culture and Society, 4(1), 55–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and Self-Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  24. Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  25. Goulding, C., & Shankar, A. (2011). Club Culture, Neotribalism and Ritualised Behaviour. Annals of Tourism Research, 38(4), 1435–1453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goulding, C., Shankar, A., & Elliott, R. (2002). Working Weeks, Club Weekends: Identities Fragmentation and the Emergence of New Communities. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 5(4), 261–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Habermas, J. (1989). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Enquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hardy, A., Gretzel, U., & Hanson, D. (2013). Travelling Neo-Tribes: Conceptualsing Recreational Vehicle Users. Journal of Tourism & Cultural Change, 11(1/2), 48–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Heath, S. (2004). Peer-Shared Households, Quasi-Communes and Neo-Tribes. Current Sociology, 52(2), 161–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hetherington, K. (1998). Expressions of Identity: Space, Performance, Politics. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Hoggart, R. (1957). The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Life with Special Reference to Publications and Entertainments. London: Chatto and Windus.Google Scholar
  32. Hu, X. (2011). Urban Tension: Coffee Houses and Transformation of Lifestyles. Nanjing: Southeast University Press. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  33. Hughson, J. (2007). A Tale of Two Tribes: Expressive Fandom in Australian Soccer’s a-League. Culture, Sport, Society, 2(3), 10–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jenkins, R. (1992). Pierre Bourdieu. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ji, S., & Duan, J. (2012). Spatial Consumption: A New Prospect of Urban Development from Perspective of Consumer Culture. Nanjing: Southeast University Press. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  36. Li, X., & Yan, C. (2014). Cultural Attitudes of Middle Class. Jiangsu Social Sciences, 4, 131–138. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  37. Maffesoli, M. (1993). The Shadow of Dionysus: A Contribution to the Sociology of the Orgy. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  38. Maffesoli, M. (1996). The Times of the Tribes. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  39. Maffesoli, M. (2000). L’instant éternel. le retour du tragique dans les societies postmodernes. Paris: Denoël.Google Scholar
  40. Mills, C. W. (1951). White Collar: The American Middle Classes. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Savage, M., Warde, A., & Ward, K. (1993). Urban Sociology, Capitalism and Modernity. London: Macmillan Education UK.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Simmel, G. (2000). Metropolis and Mental Life. In G. Bridge & S. Watson (Eds.), A Companion to the City (pp. 11–20). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  43. Simpson, P. (2008). Chronic Everyday Life: Rhythmanalysing Street Performance. Social & Cultural Geography, 9(7), 807–829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thompson, C. J., & Holt, D. B. (1996). Communities and Consumption: Research on Consumer Strategies for Constructing Communal Relationships in a Postmodern World. Advances in Consumer Research, 23(1), 204–205.Google Scholar
  45. Tomlinson, M. (2003). Lifestyle and Social Class. European Sociological Review, 19(1), 97–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Turner, V. (1974). The Ritual Process. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  47. Veblen, T. B. (1918). The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions. New York: B. W. Huebsch.Google Scholar
  48. Weaver, A. (2011). The Fragmentation of Markets, Neo-Tribes, Nostalgia, and the Culture of Celebrity: The Rise of Themed Cruises. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Management, 18(1), 54–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Webster, C., Wu, F., & Zhao, Y. (2006). China’s Modern Gated Cities. In G. Glasze, C. Webster, & K. Frantz (Eds.), Private Cities: Global and Local Perspectives (pp. 153–169). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. White, N. R., & White, P. B. (2004). Travel as Transition: Identity and Place. Annals of Tourism Research, 31(1), 200–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wolff, K. H. (1950). The Sociology of Georg Simmel. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  52. Wynne, D. (1990). Leisure, Lifestyle and the New Middle Class. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Zhang, Y. (1999). Open the Door of Coffee Houses: Cultural History of 350 Years of Continental Europe. Shanghai: Orient Publishing Centre. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  54. Zielke, P., & Waibel, M. (2015). Creative Spaces and the Local State in China: The Case of Guangzhou’s Redtory Art + Design Factory. City, Culture & Society, 6(2), 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zuyi Lv
    • 1
  • Junxi Qian
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Geography and PlanningSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Faculty of Social SciencesThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations