A Class Act: Showcasing China's stratified family politics

Alison Lamont

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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    Abstract

    What does the Chinese state think the contemporary Chinese family should be like? This presentation explores this question by looking at the annual "Looking for the Most Beautiful Family" competition, first launched by the state's All China Women's Federation (ACWF) in 2013. The campaign has a dedicated websites in Chinese and English hosted by the ACWF, as well as pages hosted by CCTV, Sina News and dedicated WeChat channels. Using these digital channels to invite popular participation from Internet users, the campaign promotes "traditional" family values by crowdsourcing examples from netizens. The campaign thus continues old methods of dictating the public discourse on morality (so-called "mass line" politics) on this new platform.

    A critical discourse analysis of the campaign and its online presence is presented to explore contemporary Chinese state concepts of, and hopes for, family life. By exploring devices such as curated online photo galleries of user-nominated "beautiful" families, this competition discursively creates the ideal family as one able to attain the China Dream of moderate prosperity and self-sufficiency. Analysis highlights the key themes of romance, conjugality and welfare as the cornerstones of the modern family. Finally, the paper emphasises the unstated role of class – or "social stratification" in the contemporary Chinese terminology – in the representation of China's most beautiful families, and questions what the discursive impact of these family representations have on notions of social mobility, identity, and normality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 5 Apr 2017
    EventBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference: Recovering the Social: Personal Troubles and Public Issues - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 4 Apr 20176 Apr 2017
    https://www.britsoc.co.uk/events/annual-conference-archive/

    Conference

    ConferenceBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference
    Abbreviated titleBSA Annual Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityManchester
    Period4/04/176/04/17
    Internet address

    Keywords

    • family
    • China
    • discourse analysis

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