Accepted paper:

The celebration: a look inside the elite social network of a Chinese firm in Nigeria

Author:

Umoloyouvwe Onomake (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to examine how social capital, through the twin modes of consumption and production, is used to bolster the social network of a Chinese conglomerate in Nigeria.

Paper long abstract:

This paper seeks to examine how social capital, through the twin modes of consumption and production, is used to bolster the social network of a Chinese conglomerate in Nigeria. Much of the research concerning China and Africa explores this growing relationship in the aggregate. However, as yet, we understand very little about these processes of investment and how the operations they generate are actually taking shape on the ground. Through the example of a Chinese owned conglomerate in Nigeria we gain insight into the day to day realities of these relationships. Recent anthropological interest in corporate forms and global capitalism has directed our attention to the ways in which global corporate operations and patterns of investment are socially constituted through elite networks and relationships. Using the ethnographic example of a social event hosted by the Chinese firm we can explore it's use of social capital. The lines between production and consumption are blurred when producers become consumers and a production space, in this case a large open air area adjacent to buildings filled with assembly lines and storage areas, is transformed into a place of consumption-a party space. In the context of the company, the attendees are elites of varying levels including office support staff, mid to high level management as well as members of vendor firms and foreign consular officers. I posit that the participants' attendance and subsequent consumption of food, entertainment and gifts are predicated upon their roles in the organisation's production process. Because front line workers are not attendees it is necessary to consider the roles of elites in the production process. Ultimately this social event contributes to the maintenance and reinforcement of social capital which aids the corporation's ultimate goal-to conduct business in Nigeria.

panel W070
Work and consumption: insurmountable links in uncertain times (EN) (FR)