Globalized Childhood? Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing Eriberto P. Lozada, Jr.

Globalized Childhood?
Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing
Eriberto P. Lozada, Jr.
As presented by Naomi Wente
 Transnationalism: the flow of
ideas, products, people, capital,
and technologies across national
 Growing power of corporations –
sometimes considered a major
cause of cultural disruption in
developing countries
 Examine US-based Kentucky
Fried Chicken
 Success of such fast-food
 What children eat is a
fundamental part of their
 Localization
“There are now many visible markers of homogenization
because of a more integrated global system of production and
consumption, there has also been a dramatic expansion in
particularism, as competing claims for cultural identity and
authenticity have become more strident.”
Transnational Corporations
 Provide institutional support for the movement of people,
goods, and ideas across national boundaries
Have existed for as long as there have been nations
Gained influence over the years
Created a global system of interdependence
Must understand these connections to understand the social
fabric of everyday life.
KFC + Transnationalism
 KFC in Beijing as an entry point of
 Requirement: to see KFC as a socially
constructed locality of consumption
 Opening of first branch in 1987
 Operations since then have become more
 Formerly exotic, imported food transformed
into a familiar and intimate type of cuisine
 Forced “localization”- innovations and
modifications made by KFC in reaction to
local competition and to a growing
understanding of the place of children in
“Chicky” (or Qiqi)
 Rejected old Colonel Sanders
 New icon: “Chicky”
 Introduced in 1995
 Fun, kid-oriented
 Marketing technique
 Kids love eating at KFC restaurants:
regular customers
 Fun and exciting place to eat
 Kid-friendly
 Birthday party introduction (1995):
Chicken Politics
 “Results with integrity”- no
standard way to cook chicken,
flexibility to mold to local market
and work with government
KFC launched its operations from
the political power center of Beijing
vs. other economic centers
Decentralized operations
In order for KFC to succeed in any
given society it must be firmly
grounded in that society.
Local managers draw on support
service of the corporation
“Cock fight”
 Competition- Ronghaji demonstrated that Chinese
entrepreneurs could employ Western technology and create
an industry with “Chinese characteristics”
 KFC did not obliterate China’s culinary traditions- instead it
stimulated a local discourse on national heritage
 1987- 40% of food imported
 1991- 3% of food imported (11 secret herbs and spices)
 Origin of fast food in China
 Thousands of years ago as stuffed buns and rice rolls
 Street food venders
 Idea wholly imported from US
Growth of fast food
 Want for modernization = desire to eat
Western food
 Spread of KFC and also McDonald’s,
Pizza Hut, Brownies, etc
 Marketing increases
 Standardized, mechanized cooking,
concern for hygiene, uniformed staff
member mopping floor
 Food poisoning scare outside of fast food
= safe haven
 Catering for government/other
 Ability to choose different types of food
 Also growth of fast life style pace
 Most telling: KFC company loosing status as
a “hot topic”
 Novelty fading
 Patrons eat there for more of a convenience
 Being Western wasn’t enough- need to offer
more variety- uniqueness of products
(offering spicy chicken sandwich not offered
in US)
Young consumers
 Important role in
stratification of the Chinese
Partnerships with schools,
teachers, and parents
Single child policy- parents
willing to spend more money
Toys and décor attracts kids
Spread of TV watching +
Conclusion: Globalized Childhood?
 Kids draw parents in to KFC to eat fast
food, taste modernity, and to have fun. By
doing so, they are drawing their elders into
an intersection of local society and
Not a passive relationship in which a
transnational organization like KFC
dictates lessons to be mastered by the
Both local residents and KFC are linked in
a network of social relations.
KFC has had to adapt to expectations and
demands of customers in non-standard
Domesticated and localized through the
input of local people (managers and kid
Conclusion: Globalized Childhood?
 Kids live in a deterritorialized space that can be viewed as a sort of
globalized childhood culture
Resulting culture is not a single, homogenized global children’s
culture--- there is not a vacuum
Culture is embedded in particular networks of social relations and
historical contexts.
Particularism becomes possible due to specialization
KFC restaurants may appear as one of the hallmarks of
globalization, but on closer inspection, the success of KFC has
depended on the ability to become local, as an integral part of
Beijing children’s social life.
Success = ability to become intelligible to people in their local
social context.
The End…. ?
 Satisfying?
 What about the pros and
 No passionate conclusion
 Is a globalized childhood a
good thing?
 Many missing puzzle pieces