Modernization and generation. A comparative study of China and Norway
International collaborative project between the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, and Centre for Gender Research, the University of Oslo.
About the project
Project leader at CASS: Professor Li Chunling
Other participants in the CASS-part of the project: researcher Shi Yunqing and researcher Meng Lei
Project leader at STK: Professor Harriet Bjerrum Nielsen
The project will compare life stories of women and men and their experiences of growing up in respectively China and Norway in the 1950/60s and the 1980/90s. The Chinese data will be collected i 2015-16. The Norwegian data was collected in connection with Harriet Bjerrum Nielsen and Monica Rudbergs' longitudinal project on young women and men i three generations (see Nielsen & Rudberg: Moderne jenter, Universitetsforlaget 2006). The Norwegian sample also includes men and women who grew up in the 1920/30s. If possible, a number of informants from this generation will also be included in the Chinese sample, and in addition, a number of informants from the fourth generation, growing up in the new millenium, will also be interviuewed.
The project focusses on processes of modernization and individualization and the impact they have had on the lives of children og young people. In very different cultural, social and political contexts, gender relations and generational relations have been a target for social reconfigurations as well as psychological conflicts and tensions in both Norway and China.
From a relatively stable social rural order characterised by a moral of duty, distinct roles for women and men and male authority in the family, process of industrialization, urbanization, and secularization in Norway, led to a society characterised by an increased focus on individual rights and formal education. Together with the social provisions of the expanding welfare state, this has laid important foundations for making women and men's lives more similar with regard to their rights and obligations in the family, in the labour market and in politics. This has resulted in a more equal and mutual, but also less binding relation between women and men, and between parents and youth.
China is presently experiencing a comparable process of industrialization and modernization but in a very different cultural, social, political and temporal context. The enormous size of China's population compared to the small Nordic countries, the huge differences in history, in political systems and social welfare provision, as well as in the economical, technological and global situation accompanying the processes of change at the different points of time, give very different contexts for processes of modernization. On the other hand, China and the Nordic countries also share some similarities such as, for instance, a strong emphasis on the state’s role with regard to educating and socializing youth, and promoting gender equality, for instance through co-operation with women's organisations.
A comparative view on conflicts, negotiations and changing relations between genders and generations may illuminate both general and specific traits of processes of modernization as well as what might be entailed in the concept of modernization.