“Make a Living by Doing Good”

The Moral Economy of Infant Formulas among Chinese Migrant Women in France

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Yong Li Research Associate, University of Rouen, France liyong76@gmail.com

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This article focuses on the e-commerce of infant milk by Chinese migrant women in France, who became retail agents for their Chinese clients after the melamine infant formula scandal in China in 2008. The daigou-ers conceive of their WeChat business as an activity of solidarity, one that allows them to earn a living while helping Chinese parents get safe baby foods. My article proposes to conceptualize the daigou business of formula milk as a moral economy and analyze the ways in which online and offline realities merge and collide in the making of this moral economy. I argue that the moral economy of infant formulas is co-constructed by the virtual encounters between the seller and the buyer, the materiality and mobility of infant milk, the dynamics of the infrastructures of mobility, the offline hazards and challenges affecting the supply and transportation of the formula milk, and customers’ risk perception.

Contributor Notes

Yong Li is a sociologist and a research associate at the Dysolab, University of Rouen, France. He is also a fellow with the French Collaborative Institute on Migration. Since his doctoral thesis, his research has focused on the migratory and moral careers of young Chinese migrants under the condition of compressed modernity. His current work is built around three main themes: the life courses of skilled Chinese migrants in France and their transnational mobility; the experience of discrimination of young people of Chinese origin in France; food risks and social trust in China. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5039-9505; Email: liyong76@gmail.com

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