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‘Extinction of Young Adults’ and Change in Structure of Feelings in Contemporary China

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2016, (34), pp.1-21
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2016..34.001
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture
  • Published : November 30, 2016

Ko Yoonsil 1

1숙명여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Young adults in the 21st century have come to suffer from fierce competition for survival and anxiety about their future. They no longer form a central point through sense of community and common good, and they have become fragmented as ‘separately-existing us’ or ‘individuals extinguishing alone.’ This appears more apparently in cultural phenomena and subcultures of resistance and defiance are consumed as individuality and youth is commercialized. Young adults who grew mature though internal reflection and contemplation were named based on various cultural traits and distinction of generation, and they have become the principal agents of consumption. Polarization of cities and rural areas in China has become even more serious and survival has emerged as dire problem for young adults in competition structure represented by ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘winner takes it all.’Selfishness for survival prevented genuineness from growing up through inner self, and young adults who lost this genuineness have come to be born again as snobbish subjects, which takes place not only in China but also around the whole world including Korea. Especially, appearance of snobbish society and rebirth of snobbish subjects are deemed to be related with change in economic structure and corresponding transposition of power. Radical change in the dominant structure of feelings in China is linked with the change in the form of power which is closely related with economic conditions. This structure of feelings in Chinese society faced a turning point of rapid change at them time of Den Xioping’s ‘Addresses in the Southern Provinces (南方講和).’ At the beginning of this historical point of inflection lay 6/4 Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. Since then, Chinese system has been on the continuum of Deng Xioping’s system called ‘6/4 system’, which has strengthened consumption capitalism, produced emergence of various cultural tribes of young adult generation and created a new structure of cultural industry-new media-mass culture, spreading the materialism of desires. Now, snobbish emotions have taken firm root widely in overall contemporary Chinese society. From white collar workers to farmers in rural areas as well as young adults are willing to spend their whole life to accumulate wealth and earn social status, and shameless pursuit of these values means formation of structure of feelings which puts these values before anything else and does not feel ashamed of it. This has changed everything from individual way of thinking to interpersonal relationship and way of daily lives. This study explores the changes in Chinese young adults’ culture and structure of feelings through analysis of popular discourse on ‘extinction of young adults’, popularization of cuteness (萌) culture, phenomenon of retrospection of youth and various sub-culture phenomena of young adults.

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