Course Code


Course Name

Youth in China


2:30-5:15 pm




Dr. Lynn SUN

Teaching Assistant


Course Description

What does it mean to be young in China today? How do Chinese youth cope with the rapid social, economic, cultural and political transformations that shape their lives? How do they express their identities, values, aspirations and frustrations through various forms of (sub)cultures? These are some of the questions that this English-taught, upper-level seminar will explore by examining the diverse and dynamic experiences of youth in contemporary China.

This seminar will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on readings from anthropology, history, cultural studies, and political science. It will also use multi-media materials such as documentaries, news articles, and social media content to illustrate the complex and contested realities of Chinese youth. Through case studies, students will be invited to critically analyze youth-related phenomena, such as: How young Chinese negotiate their roles and responsibilities within their families, and why some of them opt for “anti-parents” online forums while others choose to “lie flat” (躺平) and become “full-time children” (全職兒女); How young Chinese experience and express their romantic and sexual desires and orientations, and why some of them delay or avoid marriage and parenthood; How young Chinese navigate the competitive and uncertain education and labor markets, the ongoing debate on the utility of studying liberal arts, and why are the changes from “jumping into the sea” (下海) of joining private sectors or becoming entrepreneurs to “swimming ashore”(上岸)to eagerly purse “iron rice bowl” jobs (鐵飯碗) in public sectors; How young Chinese display patriotic sentiments or engage in civic activism; How young Chinese handle stress via youth (sub)cultures; and etc.

The seminar will begin with an introduction to the core concepts, debates, and methods of youth studies in the context of China. Then, each week, we will focus on one of the above-mentioned topics and discuss the relevant readings and materials. Students are expected to actively participate in the class discussion and share their own perspectives and experiences as youth in today’s world. By the end of the course, students should be able to develop a more critical and nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities that Chinese youth face in the 21st century.

Course Outline

WEEK 1 (9 Jan) Course Introduction: Chinese Youth Across Time and Space

WEEK 2 (16 Jan) Youth in Socialist China: the Sent-down Generation

(Form your own research group)

WEEK 3 (23 Jan) Youth and Family

WEEK 4 (30 Jan) Youth, Intimacy, and Marriage

WEEK 5 (6 Feb) Youth, Education, and Work I

WEEK 6 (13 Feb) NO CLASS (Lunar New Year Holiday)

WEEK 7 (20 Feb) Youth, Education, and Work II

WEEK 8 (27 Feb) Youth and National Sentiment

WEEK 9 (5 Mar) NO Class (Reading Week)

(Group Research Project Proposal Due)

WEEK 10 (12 Mar) Youth and Youth Culture I: Combating Anxiety

WEEK 11 (19 Mar) Group Consultation on Your Group Research Project (TBA)

WEEK 12 (26 Mar) Youth and Youth Culture II: Resilience, Escape, or Resistance?

WEEK 13 (2 Apr) Youth and Future: Thinking About Alternatives

WEEK 14 (9 Apr) Group Research Project Presentations I

WEEK 15 (16 Apr) Group Research Project Presentations II

Friday, 26 April 2024: Written Response Due



Assessment & Assignments

Attendance and participation (15%)

Discussion Forum Postings (20%)

Group Research Project (40%)

Research Proposal (10%)

Written Response (25%)

Honesty in Academic Work

Students should submit written assignments to the Veriguide system, print out the Veriguide receipt and scan it into a PDF file before submitting to the Blackboard. See the website: Any cases of plagiarism will be severely penalized and reported to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, which could result in failure or expulsion from the University.