The Good Life in Late Socialist Asia: Aspirations, Politics and Possibilities
Date: 16 - 18 September 2019
Convenors: Minh Nguyen (Bielefeld, GER), Phill Wilcox (Bielefeld, GER)
This conference critically engages with the notion of the ?good life? and its ramifications in late socialist social life through investigations of varied empirical contexts and theoretical issues in contemporary Laos, China and Vietnam. In these countries, where socialist central planning has given way to marketisation, rapid social transformations are generating an imminent sense of moral decline and anxiety. Logics of privatisation logics increasingly prevail, defining matters of well-being as individual responsibilities. They shift the emphasis away from the socialist promise of universal care while creating pressure on people to keep up with the demands of the new economy. Concurrently, economic development and the circulation of people, goods, images and ideas have opened up new vistas of aspirations and desires. Even as people might be nostalgic for the past, more and more are embracing notions of the good life that shift away from the collectivist ideals of state socialism towards individualised goals and desires. This coincides with the realignment of the state and the market in promoting consumption and self-entrepreneurism. Our examination of the actual ideas, practices and institutions of the good life will be productive for understanding their underlying value frameworks and the moral life of the person in these fast-changing societies. The conference will broaden the theoretical and empirical scope for conceptualising the good life and considering the ramifications of late socialism in everyday life today.