Society and Identity
The one-child policy, enforced until 2016, has dramatically shaped family structures and increased the pressure on parents to make their only child a success. Media and experts underline how parents’ earliest choices determine their child’s future, but also the nation’s future. Despite structural inequalities at the national and local level, parents are held responsible for their child’s individual successes and failures. Some Chinese scholars have called this phenomenon ‘parentocracy’ [Jiazhang zhuyi] (Jin Yihong and Yang Di 2015). However, parents act within and are constrained by their social and political environment: governmental discourses on ‘good parenthood’ regard parents as objects of assessment and intervention, seeking to solicit their participation in the cultivation of particular habits, ethics, and behaviors. In this panel, we explore the intergenerational transmission of social norms through parenting practices. Simultaneously, we recognize that parents are active agents, and explore the distinct tactics they employ to navigate these top-down governmental strategies (Neyrand 2011, De Certeau 1984). This panel will also explore how different identity frames (such as nationality, gender, race, class and the rural/urban divide) intersect and influence conceptions of parenthood and parenting practices.
In this panel we explore how parenthood norms are produced by the interactions of parents, media and public policies in contemporary China. First, we explore the crucial role that parents play in the schooling process. Specifically, the first paper shows how parents negotiate education policies within the context of an ambivalent state discourse between happy education and competitiveness. Second, the author explores how parents’ educational background, social capital and involvement level in the decision-making process impact the way in which Chinese students make the plan of studying in France. Finally, the last paper explores parents’ involvement in the marriage of their child, in particular in search for the perfect partner through wedding market in urban China.