Carolyn Cartier examines the city as a key location for new professions and lifestyles in China. When China’s urban income growth sustained unprecedented levels in the mid-2000s, some consumer activity emerged in large-scale participatory events, with forms and aesthetics that are reminiscent of Mao-era ‘passions’ for mass activity and political excess. Cartier examines urban landscapes of surplus capital and ‘consumer activity with Maoist characteristics’ in relation to the Civilized City programme. Established by the national Spiritual Civilization Committee in 2005, this programme seeks to standardize urban governance even as it continues the Mao-era ideology of model cities.