Broken Promises of Capitalism’s Wonderland: Representing Uneven Development in Contemporary China and Japan

Critical Sociology所収

China and Japan are currently in opposing stages of the expansion process of capitalism. While China is at the centre of the global accumulation of surplus capital through urbanisation and industrial expansion—i.e. the creation stage—Japan has been stagnant in recent decades and its periphery is de-urbanising—i.e. the destruction stage. Consequences of the global spatialisation of capital, however, are similar in both cases, resulting in growing social inequalities. This article uses films to explore the influence of this process on popular culture, specifically focusing on a Chinese film—Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin (2013)—and a Japanese one—Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s Sketches of Kaitan City (2010). The two films are composed of interconnected segments that portray the social by-products of the spatialisation of capitalism. We argue that, despite the apparent dissimilarities, this process creates parallel realities consequential to the broken promises of advancement made by the economic system. Ultimately, this generates a distorted social space that normalises the new, worsened living conditions resulting from capitalism’s continual expansion.