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Individualization and the Chinese Middle Class Family. A Qualitative Study of 24 Beijing Families. (Working Title)

The qualitative dissertation project explores the impact of individualization processes on the family life and the family relationships within the Chinese middle class family. The analytical focus lies on the subjective views and experiences of the members of 24 families interviewed for this study. How do they experience the tremendous changes (which are here mainly understood as outcomes of individualization processes as described by Ulrich Beck and others) that the Chinese family has undergone throughout the last 30 years of reform and opening-up? What concepts of family and family relationships can be found in their narratives? Since the middle class still represents a very new social stratum in China, it is especially interesting to examine the specific problems and challenges perceived by members of these families. From a gender perspective it will be interesting to see how they are dealing with problems concerning the work-life balance and the division of household tasks. To answer these questions the study takes an grounded theory approach and applies various methods of qualitative data analysis like agency analysis and positioning analysis. The empirical data for this project have already been collected and are still being analyzed. A structural outline of the thesis has been developed and the writing process is just about to start.