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Individualised values of happiness: exploring changing ethics in young people's dating and relationships in post-reform China

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This article examines the changing ethics in dating and personal relationships of a group of young Chinese people born at the beginning of the economic reform era (1978 to present), which feeds into a broader project of investigating the romantic subjectivity of Chinese youth facing sociocultural change in the post-reform era. Based on data generated in semi-structured interviews, an emerging individualised and private personal ethics is observed, which challenges the monopoly of marriage towards sexual practices, and connotes a changing sexuality emphasising the fulfilment of sexual pleasure rather than procreation purposes. Chinese youth often embrace individual freedoms and choices facilitated by the free market economy and consumerist culture, while at the same time draw on (a sometimes new understanding of) traditional familial values in order to pursue personal happiness in a modernising society and gain an identity as Chinese in a globalising era.
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Keywords: INDIVIDUALISATION; LOVE AND INTIMACY; PERSONAL HAPPINESS; POST-REFORM CHINA; RELATIONSHIP ETHICS; YOUNG PEOPLE

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: July, 2018

This article was made available online on July 18, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "Individualised values of happiness: Exploring changing ethics in young people’s dating and relationships in post-reform China".

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