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This imaginative and incisive collection of pieces about life in contemporary China reveals, like a series of snapshots, a picture of the lives of ordinary people and the rules and rituals that govern their daily existence. Key themes surface: in particular, the emergence of a consumer culture driven by the market, and the way in which this intersects with the 'floating population' of vagrants, prostitutes, and liumang (hooligans). We see how, in turn, the official strategies of the state deal with this perceived social disorder and how the street responds. Underlying much of the discussion of contestation and transformation is the notion of human rights. There will be no better introduction to the discourses of contemporary China, and few more entertaining, vivid, and stimulating accounts of shifts in cultural life and politics.