In the last decade, business and life coaching programmes have rapidly proliferated in the People’s Republic of China. Such programmes promise radical self-transformations aiming at individual success and social responsibility. The methods of most coaching programmes popular in China today are characterised by strict discipline and emotional expressivity, which are enacted in personal bonds between participants and coaches. This article describes and analyses these processes of self-transformation for the case of the rapidly growing ‘Leadership Programmes’ (LP). We outline the social background and emergence of LP programmes, present the typical features of LP training and discuss the consequences of self-transformation as seen by participants and outsiders. Altogether, these leadership programmes constitute an important new platform where ethical subjectivities are created and negotiated among new middle-class Chinese; subjectivities that are supposed to be enterprising, responsible, and expressive.
- business coaching
- middle class