ESSAY/DISCUSSION QUESTION CHINA’S GENERATION Y AND YOUTH CULTURE
The post-1980 generation of Chinese or China’s Generation Y can be characterized by a number of factors. One of the most significant factors that characterizes China’s post-1980 generation that differs from previous generations is the strong materialistic attitude that has become apparent. One such example, as outlined by Yan (2006, pg. 255) is the dramatic embrace of McDonald’s in China. This embrace of McDonald’s and the slogan “I’m lovin’ it” or “jiu xihuan” resonates this life aspiration to achieve “instant individual gratification in terms of a pleasurable and comfortable material life”. This attitude is in opposition to China’s former generations who embraced a more collective mindset and had less desire for material gain. In contrast, China’s new generation are more comparable to American youth as having an “individualistic” and fun-seeking behavior that goes beyond social norms. However, where this differs is where Chinese and American youth perform such acts. While Americans may be more outwardly public about their behavior, the Chinese appear to place more emphasis on personal consumption. Furthermore, as Yan (2006, pg. 256) describes, this new generation also have ambitions in the field of business to build wealth in order to acquire more material wealth. In contrast under Chairman Mao, former generations were more concerned with being provided for through the communist system. Part of this reason is because of China’s new economic policies where advancing financially is more possible than ever and this new generation is responsible for fulfilling the dreams of their parents and to provide for them as they grow old.
Continuing on this notion, the new generation of Chinese youth is more immersed in Western culture than ever before. Although this culture may be on a superficial level as drinking Coca-Cola, listening to hip-hop and watching Western television shows do not equate to transforming a culture but it does provide new ways of thinking that may equate to selfishness. Hence, the term “little emperors” for China’s Generation Y is quite fitting (Yan 2006, pg. 256). As individualism becomes more rampant, a growing disinterest in politics, a freer sexual lifestyle, and an increase in rebellious behavior have become apparent. As is also pointed out by Yan, the phrase “it is my choice to do whatever I want and go wherever I want” has been quoted as being the motto for this generation. This may be a factor in fostering further creativity and individual free thought in China in the coming generations.