Today, I’m following up yesterday’s cultural industry post with a friend’s highly speculative explanation for the apparent decline of the Century Handicraft Plaza. This conversation interests me because it provides a sociological explanation for economic success; the question isn’t what can be known, but rather, in the absence of knowledge, what ought to be assumed. Moreover, the assumption is interestingly at odds with Weber’s puritans, who saw wealth as a sign of God’s blessing. In contrast, my friend sees wealth and economic viability as signs of corruption.
Me: When I went to the Yongfengyuan store in the Handicraft Plaza, I was surprised by the fact that they were selling the same cultural products as last year and that the second floor showroom had been converted to office space. How can this happen to a national level cultural enterprise? Moreover, many of the surrounding shops had closed. So despite architectural renovations, the Plaza seemed abandoned.
Friend: It’s actually not too difficult to figure out. The cultural industry fair is over, so there’s no reason to keep pumping money into the Plaza. Also, Yongfengyuan makes expensive gifts that officials exchange, so the brand has probably been a way of channeling public money into private pockets. Continue reading