Social Transformation and Values Conflicts Among Youth in Contemporary China

Guozhen Cen and Dan Li

in International Perspectives on Youth Conflict and Development

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195178425
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199958528 | DOI:
Social Transformation and Values Conflicts Among Youth in Contemporary China

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This chapter describes the challenges faced by Chinese youth with respect to their moral and social values that emerged as a result of China's shift from a command economy to a free market system. It presents studies indicating that Chinese youth have shifted from traditional collectivist values to ones consistent with pursing personal development. Material wealth and personal happiness have become salient values among Chinese youth. Positive virtues of patriotism, concern for others, and fundamental fairness are also evident in the values of contemporary Chinese youth. However, research has demonstrated that there are also some values/moral problems among Chinese youth today. These include less trust of social institutions, expectations that bribery and social influence are associated with success, and a reduced belief that one can resist such forces. These shifts in social values appear to be accompanied by a rise in the national crime rate of robbery and theft. The chapter provides an analysis of the cultural and contextual causes related to the rise of what we term moral and social values confusion. Finally, it offers a set of recommendations for educational research and practice that would ameliorate these problems.

Keywords: Chinese youth; youth conflict; material wealth; personal happiness; social values; moral problems

Chapter.  7418 words. 

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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