White Skin as a Social and Cultural Capital in Asia and Its Economic Markets
31 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2017
Date Written: December 30, 2016
This paper analyses the beauty standards in Southeast Asia regarding the whiteness of people's skin and how it affects the local markets. This paper starts with is a brief introduction to the capital theories, social and cultural capitals as defined by Pierre Bourdieu. The history of the colonialism and nationalism in Southeast Asia is explored, referring to the European influence that the colonisers had over the colonised. The relationship between skin colour, social positioning and pale skin as a form of capital referring to Bourdieu's theories is also studied, concluding with a brief analysis of the whitening products within the skin care sector in the Asian beauty markets and its implications on the economy. An empirical analysis is made through an interview with a white-skinned expat in Thailand, whose testimonies confirm the main thesis of the study that a white skin in Asia has a significant influence on the success one may have in every aspect of the life as it works as an important asset to have in order to be more likely to have opportunities offered.
Keywords: skin-whitening, aesthetics, southeast Asia, Thailand, cultural capital, social capital, beauty standards
JEL Classification: A00, A10, A13, A14, F54, F60, J15, J24, J71, M31, M37, O11, O50, O53, P10, Y40, Z13
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