Young Chinese in Urban China: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Young Chinese in Urban China

1st Edition

By Alex Cockain


224 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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This book examines the condition of being a young person in China and the way in which changes in various dimensions of urban life have affected Chinese youths' quests to understand themselves.

The author examines social factors such as changes in the physical construction of urban neighbourhoods; changes in family life including reduced family size, increasing rates of divorce and increased physical mobility of the family unit; school life and mounting pressure to perform well in examinations and be a good student; access to foreign and domestic media as well as access to the internet. Drawing on the fields of social and cultural anthropology, Alex Cockain shows that the process of self understanding in a changing spatial, social and cultural world involves ongoing disjointed efforts to achieve a sense of security and belonging on the one hand and a degree of increased autonomy in their relationships with, for example, parents and teachers on the other.

This book will appeal to anyone interested in Chinese Society, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Asian Anthropology and Youth Studies.


"In many ways this is a classic anthropological study that challenges more journalistic views by focusing on the fragmentary and often contradictory nature of everyday, lived experience. The book should be of interest to those studying cultural change, youth, and media in China and in other contexts." - Lisa Hoffman, University of Washington Tacoma, USA (China Information 2013)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Moving on from Images of Red Guards, the Tank Man and Little Emperors Part 1: A Macro Context 2. Experiencing Neighbourhoods 3. Ambivalence and Tactics for Coping with the Tensions of Metropolitan Life 4. Bricolaic National and International Orientations Part 2: A Micro Context 5. Intergenerational Dynamics 6. Ambivalence toward Secondary Education and the Bitterness of the Gaokao Part 3: A Mediated Context 7. Engagements with Traditional Media 8. The Internet in Everyday Life 9. Online Carnival 10. Conclusions

About the Author

Alex Cockain is a teaching fellow at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

About the Series

Routledge Studies on China in Transition

The spectacular economic development of China has raised many questions about its future. China in Transition participates in the intellectual developments by focusing on social, political and cultural change in the China of the 1990s and beyond. Drawing on new research from scholars in Asia, Australia, North America and Europe, this series is invaluable in monitoring reform and interpreting the consequences for China, its neighbours and the West.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General