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postgraduate thesis: Falling in and out of the cosmopolitan romance: state, market, and the making of Shanghainese women'sromantic love experiences

TitleFalling in and out of the cosmopolitan romance: state, market, and the making of Shanghainese women'sromantic love experiences
Authors
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Sun, J. [孙珏]. (2012). Falling in and out of the cosmopolitan romance : state, market, and the making of Shanghainese women's romantic love experiences. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4784937
AbstractShanghai is often regarded as China’s best embodiment of cosmopolitanism, transcending the local through the purchase of global goods that, in turn, allows its citizens to be part of a post-socialist world. This aspiring outlook of Shanghai is often the result of larger institutional changes, such as the move to a market economy and China’s entry into WTO. Crucial to the understanding of how this state-mediated cosmopolitan culture came to have an impact on the lives of individuals, the key patterns in romantic experiences of young Shanghainese women are discussed in elaborate detail in this thesis. In particular, this study focuses on two specific forces, namely the state and the market, that have greatly shaped the romantic context of cosmopolitan Shanghai. As such, this thesis seeks to answer three key questions: 1) Is it possible that the Chinese state has (re)structured contemporary Shanghainese women’s romantic experiences and, if so, in what ways? 2) Do current findings on the role of the consumer market in shaping romantic practices also apply within the context under study? 3) In what ways have Shanghainese women played out their love lives in the current context? Building a theoretical framework from state-role theory which emphasizes the role of the Chinese state in initiating life-altering social transformations and theory that relates romantic love to the consumer culture and the social organization of advanced capitalism, this thesis asserts that the romantic experiences of young Shanghainese women both mirror and extend the fundamental arguments framing both theories, thus offering new levels of complexity for examining the relationship between romantic love and culture. Through an open-ended interview process following grounded theory principles, 44 respondents (age 25-39) are asked questions regarding their romantic experiences to provide key details from the context under study. The findings of this study suggest that the state and the state-mediated consumer culture has produced contradictions in the romantic experiences of young Shanghainese women. While as cosmopolitan individuals young women are supposed to be desirous and constraint-free in pursuit of their romantic ideals, persistent class and gender hierarchies, and rising economic and emotional uncertainties, nevertheless, undercut their freedom and many of the incentives to realize these ideals. Such freedom is further undercut by mounting pressure from their parents who are primarily dependent on their only daughters, as a result of the family-planning policy and other shifting state policies in the past, for long-term financial and emotional care amidst rising costs and barely functional social welfare programs. Caught in a tension between self desires and traditional role obligations, young women become rational actors in their romantic experiences as they negotiate or even transform the conventionalities by lurching between different understandings of love and varying moralities of self and family to justify their motives and behaviors. As such, their romantic experiences embody the market ethos of consumer capitalism—rational, selfinterested, strategic, and profit-maximizing––complexly entangled in a material and moral environment built by the socialist state.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectLove - China - Shanghai.
Courtship - China - Shanghai.
Women - China - Shanghai - Social conditions.
Dept/ProgramSociology

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorSun, Jue-
dc.contributor.author孙珏-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationSun, J. [孙珏]. (2012). Falling in and out of the cosmopolitan romance : state, market, and the making of Shanghainese women's romantic love experiences. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4784937-
dc.description.abstractShanghai is often regarded as China’s best embodiment of cosmopolitanism, transcending the local through the purchase of global goods that, in turn, allows its citizens to be part of a post-socialist world. This aspiring outlook of Shanghai is often the result of larger institutional changes, such as the move to a market economy and China’s entry into WTO. Crucial to the understanding of how this state-mediated cosmopolitan culture came to have an impact on the lives of individuals, the key patterns in romantic experiences of young Shanghainese women are discussed in elaborate detail in this thesis. In particular, this study focuses on two specific forces, namely the state and the market, that have greatly shaped the romantic context of cosmopolitan Shanghai. As such, this thesis seeks to answer three key questions: 1) Is it possible that the Chinese state has (re)structured contemporary Shanghainese women’s romantic experiences and, if so, in what ways? 2) Do current findings on the role of the consumer market in shaping romantic practices also apply within the context under study? 3) In what ways have Shanghainese women played out their love lives in the current context? Building a theoretical framework from state-role theory which emphasizes the role of the Chinese state in initiating life-altering social transformations and theory that relates romantic love to the consumer culture and the social organization of advanced capitalism, this thesis asserts that the romantic experiences of young Shanghainese women both mirror and extend the fundamental arguments framing both theories, thus offering new levels of complexity for examining the relationship between romantic love and culture. Through an open-ended interview process following grounded theory principles, 44 respondents (age 25-39) are asked questions regarding their romantic experiences to provide key details from the context under study. The findings of this study suggest that the state and the state-mediated consumer culture has produced contradictions in the romantic experiences of young Shanghainese women. While as cosmopolitan individuals young women are supposed to be desirous and constraint-free in pursuit of their romantic ideals, persistent class and gender hierarchies, and rising economic and emotional uncertainties, nevertheless, undercut their freedom and many of the incentives to realize these ideals. Such freedom is further undercut by mounting pressure from their parents who are primarily dependent on their only daughters, as a result of the family-planning policy and other shifting state policies in the past, for long-term financial and emotional care amidst rising costs and barely functional social welfare programs. Caught in a tension between self desires and traditional role obligations, young women become rational actors in their romantic experiences as they negotiate or even transform the conventionalities by lurching between different understandings of love and varying moralities of self and family to justify their motives and behaviors. As such, their romantic experiences embody the market ethos of consumer capitalism—rational, selfinterested, strategic, and profit-maximizing––complexly entangled in a material and moral environment built by the socialist state.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B4784937X-
dc.subject.lcshLove - China - Shanghai.-
dc.subject.lcshCourtship - China - Shanghai.-
dc.subject.lcshWomen - China - Shanghai - Social conditions.-
dc.titleFalling in and out of the cosmopolitan romance: state, market, and the making of Shanghainese women'sromantic love experiences-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4784937-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSociology-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4784937-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

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