Fengshu Liu situates the lives of Chinese youth and the growth of the Internet against the backdrop of rapid and profound social transformation in China. In 2008, the total of Internet users in China had reached 253 million (in comparison with 22.5 million in 2001). Yet, despite rapid growth, the Internet in China is so far a predominantly urban-youth phenomenon, with young people under thirty (especially those under twenty-four), mostly members of the only-child generation, as the main group of the netizens’ population. As both youth and the Internet hold the potential to inflict, or at least contribute to, far-reaching economic, social, cultural, and political changes, this book fulfills a pressing need for a systematical investigation of how youth and the Internet are interacting with each other in a Chinese context. In so doing, Liu sheds light on what it means to be a Chinese today, how ‘Chineseness’ may be (re)constructed in the Internet Age, and what the implications of the emerging form of identity are for contemporary and future Chinese societies as well as the world.
Introduction 1. Social Transformation in China (1979-2010) 2. The Internet with Chinese Characteristics 3. Paradoxes as Lived Experiences of Modernization: Urban Youth with Chinese Characteristics 4. The Internet in the Everyday Lifeworld: ‘I-and-the-Internet’ Narratives from Members of China’s ‘Net-Generation’ 5. The Internet Anxiety, the Norm of the ‘Good’ Netizen and the Construction of the ‘Proper’ Wired Self 6. Between Demonization and Celebration: Chinese Urban Youth and the Net Café 7. The Balinghou’s Collective Narrative in an Online Forum 8. From Political Indifference to Vehement Nationalism: Chinese Young People Negotiating the Political Self in the Internet Age. Conclusion: Modernity, the Internet and the Self