A 2019-2020 Williams Prize for best essay in East Asian Studies was awarded to Tiana Wang (Ezra Stiles College '20) for her essay submitted to the Department of Sociology, "A Changing Tea Culture, A Changing China: Variations in Conceptions of Gift Tea Among Tea Sellers” (Jeffrey Alexander, Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology, advisor).
Tiana Wang’s essay, “A Changing Tea Culture, A Changing China: Variations in Conceptions of Gift Tea among Tea Sellers” makes substantial use of original interviews and observations with twenty tea sellers across Jinan, Shanghai, and Beijing to show that tea culture is changing with new generations of consumers and sellers. Drawing on existing literature on tea and gift-giving in China, Wang shows that an increase in young consumers—as well as government policies—have changed how people gift tea in China. The major contribution of this work is that it examines how the cultural and economic meaning of an object can change following an exogenous shock—i.e., the 2013 anti-corruption campaign. After the structural dismantling of public and social meanings that resulted from the crackdown on luxury gift items, tea sellers turned to consumer values to a greater extent in their conceptualization of tea as a gift object.
Wang, Tiana, "A Changing Tea Culture, A Changing China: Variations in Conceptions of Gift Tea Among Tea Sellers" (2020). Student Work. 10.
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