Chinese Individualisms: Childrearing Aspirations for the Next Generation of Middle-Class Chinese Citizens

Sung won Kim, Kari Elle Brown, Vanessa L. Fong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article draws on surveys (N = 406) and interviews (n = 48) of graduates of a middle school in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, China, who were part of the first generation of children born under the one-child policy that began along with China's economic reforms in 1979 and were between ages 25 and 30 when they were interviewed in 2011–14. We compared how they said they had been raised by their parents with how they hope to raise their own children. We found that, while their parents raised them with the disciplined study habits and high expectations children needed to become successful in the newly competitive education system of the 1990s, our interviewees had developed a new understanding of what it would take for children to become successful, upwardly mobile Chinese citizens in the 2010s, and emphasized freedom and the development and pursuit of individual interests, pointing towards a hybrid form of “soft” and “hard” individualism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-366
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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