Scholars studying China’s generations have shown keen interest in devising new generational labels to identify characteristics of particular age cohorts. This analysis, based on 41 interviews with Chinese participants, departs from this common research strategy, first, by positioning generational labels used by ordinary Chinese, rather than academic constructs developed in western democracies, at the centre of inquiry. Three successive forms of generational nomenclature are discussed in light of China’s socialist movement and modernization: generations as natural sites of continuity, generations of revolutionaries, and generations named after decades. Further, by treating generation as a fundamentally social construct, this analysis investigates how terms such as “my generation” are constantly reconstituted in contextually-specific discursive and conversational contexts. Often distinctively shaped by China’s unique path of modernization and uneasy relationship with the West, the generational discourses of everyday Chinese shed new light on what it could mean for generations scholarship to “think globally.”
Chinese Sociological Dialogue – SAGE
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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