The commercialization of Macau's cafés
Simpson Tim
Source PublicationEthnography

The 442-year Portuguese colonial presence in Macau influenced the city's café scene comprised of Portuguese coffee shops and southern Chinese cafés (locally referred to as tsa tsan teing). These cafés are an important element of everyday social life in Macau. However, Portugal's handover of Macau to the People's Republic of China in 1999 prompted significant changes in the composition of the population and in the spaces of everyday urban life and leisure. The concomitant dismantling of the 40-year gambling monopoly and opening to foreign investment has brought new casinos and other themed leisure spaces to Macau, attracting 20 million tourists to the tiny city in 1997. One increasingly observable material dimension of these changes is the introduction of western franchises and chain outlets like Starbucks, Haagen Dazs, 7-11, and McDonald's - as well as their local imitators - leading to the increasing homogenization of facades and urban spaces and standardization of service work and related cultural practices. Starbucks and other commercial café spaces in Macau participate in the aestheticization of social life in the city, increasingly transforming Macau's quotidian public life into an arena of spectacle and performance where café activity becomes focused less on functional eating and drinking and collectivistic group belonging and sociability and more on individual display of lifestyle for others. This aestheticization also leads to an increased aesthetic reflexivity among people. This transformation is explored in two ways: analysis of formal training of service workers in a standardized performance of 'friendliness'; and analysis of representations of café consumption in Macau that encourage people to see café activity as a mode of individual performance. 

KeywordAesthetic Reflexivity Café China Emotional Labor Lifestyle Tourist Gaze
URLView the original
Indexed BySSCI
WOS Research AreaAnthropology ; Sociology
WOS SubjectAnthropology ; Sociology
WOS IDWOS:000273116400003
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Cited Times [WOS]:11   [WOS Record]     [Related Records in WOS]
Document TypeJournal article
CollectionUniversity of Macau
AffiliationFaculty of Social Sciences and HumanitiesUniversity of Macau,Macao
First Author AffilicationFaculty of Social Sciences
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Simpson Tim. The commercialization of Macau's cafés[J]. Ethnography,2008,9(2):197-234.
APA Simpson Tim.(2008).The commercialization of Macau's cafés.Ethnography,9(2),197-234.
MLA Simpson Tim."The commercialization of Macau's cafés".Ethnography 9.2(2008):197-234.
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