Confucian or Communist, post-Mao or postmodern? : exploring the narrative identity resources of Shanghai’s Post-80s generation
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SubjectShanghai (China); Generation Y; Group identity; Identity (Psychology); Symbolic interactionism; Narrative inquiry (Research methodology); Ethnography (Research methodology)
It is 30 years after Post-Mao reforms, 20 years after Tiananmen Square demonstrations, and the next generation of “comrades” are emerging in China. They are called the Balinghou or “Post- 80s” generation, referring to the cohort born between 1980 and 1989. This study addresses an empirical gap by exploring the narrative resources Shanghai’s Post-80s young adults call on to construct their identities, given the historical situation in which they live. This exploration is achieved through qualitative empirical data by employing a combination of narrative analysis and ethnography. Data analysis uncovers narrative resources clustered around three common themes: generational identity, structural resources, and personal lives. Further refection reveals that the extent to which identity is narratively expressed can be culturally constrained. Although the Balinghou encounter unique external factors such as the One Child Policy and rapid economic growth and reform in China, their narrative identity resources are more related to their perceptions of life stages than unprecedented historical circumstance. Keywords: narrative, identity, life course, symbolic interactionism, China, Shanghai, Balinghou, Post-80s generation
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