Three Generations in a Chinese Village

This project explores the impact of social transformation in post-Mao China on rural young people’s lives from a generational perspective.

About the project

China’s countryside, home to the majority of the Chinese population, has seen several major social movements over the last century, ranging from the ‘land reform’, through the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the Cultural Revolution to the Deng Xiaoping-initiated reform at the end of the 1970s. Social transformation has been most striking over the past three decades, during which China has turned from a planned economy to a market economy and has increasingly become integrated into the global economy with certain cultural concomitants. All these have affected individuals’ (and families’) lives in the countryside as well as in the cities. However, no matter how society has changed, their status of being ‘rural’ seems central in rural people’s identity.

This project explores the impact of social transformation in post-Mao China on rural young people’s lives from a generational perspective. It starts with members of the current youth generation (18-28 years old) and compares their life stories with those of their parents and grandparents. The investigation will focus on two general themes: rural youth’s experiences of China’s reform and opening up in comparison with their parents’ and grandparents’ experiences of the same social transformation; and the experiences of ‘being young’ across the three generations of youth.

So far, the data collection includes100 life-history interviews along with participant observation over many years.

Published Oct. 13, 2010 3:27 PM - Last modified Mar. 23, 2015 2:09 PM