Understanding Young Chinese Backpackers : The Pursuit of Freedom and Its Risks book cover
1st Edition

Understanding Young Chinese Backpackers
The Pursuit of Freedom and Its Risks


Jia Xie

ISBN 9781032040059
Published January 9, 2023 by Routledge
146 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

An activity that originated in Western societies, backpacking has gained increasing popularity among Chinese millennials. In a spirit of the ‘search for self’, young Chinese backpackers have sought to display their pursuit of freedom, independence and responsibility within an increasingly individualised society through backpacking.

This volume investigates contemporary young Chinese persons’ views on backpacking culture and backpackers. A group of Chinese backpackers are studied using interview and participant observation, and focus groups are conducted to study young professionals’ and university students’ attitudes towards backpacking. The results indicate a profound cultural change along with a degree of division. On the one hand, the backpackers often begin their journey due to a desire to pursue freedom, and use the pursuit as a process of reflexive awareness; on the other hand, the risks of pursuing a freewheeling lifestyle within an individualised society drive the majority of them to return home. The author concludes that this phenomenon is a kind of ‘staged individualism’, describing how Chinese millennials strike a balance between individual interests and wider social obligations.

Students and scholars of sociology tourism, and youth culture will be interested in this volume.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Conceptualisation 3. Methodology. 4. Pursuing freedom: Backpackers in the eyes of their contemporaries. 5. Be a backpacker, be independent. 6 Alternative seeker: Backpacking as a way of life. 7. A new classification of the backpacker. 8. Understanding young Chinese backpackers: The pursuit of freedom and its risks

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Jia Xie is a distinguished research fellow in the School of Tourism Management at South China Normal University. Her research covers backpacker culture, the sociology of tourism and geographies of media and communication.