University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

A Whole New World, a ‘Free’ World for Chinese Teenagers

Xu, Qiong (2014) A Whole New World, a ‘Free’ World for Chinese Teenagers. In: British Sociological Association Annual Conference, 24 April, Leeds. (Unpublished)

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Many western scholars argue that people’s lifestyles are more individualized, which allows for greater personal autonomy and the possibility of being less determined by gendered social norms (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1992). However, there are many criticisms of the theory of individualisation (Bagnoli and Ketokivi, 2009; Brannen and Nilsen, 2002; Brannen and Nilsen, 2005; Plumridge and Thomson, 2003; Thomson et al, 2002).

This raises the question of to what extent the influx of global culture has changed Chinese society. This paper explores the extent to which social and economic change in recent Chinese society can bring freedom for the young generation. The data from four focus groups with teenage girls aged 13/14 and aged 16/17 , a questionnaire survey (N=767), and eight semi structured interviews were used. It was found that some aspects of adolescent identity are similar to those of teenagers in Western countries, such as girls wanting to be rebellious and fashionable. However, in other areas the construction of self is underpinned by Chinese culture, such as the refusal to appear too glamorous because of the traditional Chinese ‘natural beauty’ ideology and the acknowledgement of ‘danger’ in engaging in romantic relationships; in addition most girls in the study felt bound by the norm of the obedient daughter. It seems that, there is no clear divide between individualisation and collectivism in a complex and changing society like China. Instead the two may often coexist with each other.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Chinese society, teenagers, global culture, lifestyles
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Allied Health and Community
Depositing User: Qiong Xu
Date Deposited: 27 May 2014 12:53
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:03

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