Aspirations are a thing that has changed a lot between the generations in China. In order to see how much has changed, we must examine the extremes of the generations that are alive today, the young aged 18 – 25 and the elderly aged 65+. When growing up, in this example leaving secondary school and continuing with life, the two are very different, with varied outlooks and desires with what to do with their lives. There are 3 aspects that I am going to touch on in this post, the change in career choices in China, the views on marriages and the way they have changed over the years, and how the different generations plan, or not planning, for the future.
For the elderly generation, everything was very ‘by the book’. The same life was expected for a lot of people in those days and there were very few who did not conform and not live the life that was expected of them.
The jobs at the times were looked upon very differently than they are now. A lot of work was very hard and physical labour based, this did not seem a problem at the time as a lot of the health and safety acts now in place did not exist then. This resulted in men working very long hours in very dangerous environments, however, this was not seen as a problem like it would now.
In relation to the younger generation, there is a big difference. Increasing numbers of younger Chinese citizens are choosing careers that are not of the norm. Hard labour appears to be a thing of the past, with the younger generation making it out that they do not want to ‘get their hands dirty’ and avoid many hard labored career paths.
There also seems to be a need for fame with the younger generation, as if a simple life is not enough for them, where as the older generation did not seem to have this desire to live a life filled with fame, choosing a more comfortable relaxed life, with a steady job.
Same sex marriage is another aspect that has dramatically changed over the years. With the elderly generation, it was almost forbidden to even be open about being homosexual, making a homosexuals lie about their sexuality purely so that they would not be persecuted by the public and treated as an outcast. This has vastly changed with the younger generation. With so much diversity in life in China, homosexuals no longer feel as though they have to ‘stay in the closet’ and can actually embrace their sexuality and live their life as they wish to, not as traditional and outdated public want them to. In many cases this results in a lot of same sex marriages, supporting the fact that the younger generation are a lot more relaxed and tolerant of the taboos that surround marriage.
For someone of the elderly generation, the future was a thing to plan for. Many people would begin to save and out aside pensions in order to live a comfortable and almost care free life after retirement. With the younger people, it seems as though they are a lot more live for the moment. The phrase ‘you only live once’ is often used as an excuse for the way some of the younger generations live. They seem to spend what money they have a lot more frivolously, with little care about saving for their later years, thus living in the now. A lot of elderly people, when they were young,
were content with China and what the country had to offer, whereas the younger people are eager to travel and explore other cultures and places around the world. This in essence is not a bad thing, curiosity can be a very good thing for someone to have, however if these younger Chinese people begin to neglect their home country, it can lead to the country being angry at this generation for having a lack of interest in this beautiful country.
In both cases, there are positives and negatives. The younger generation have managed to escape the conformist ways of the past but the elderly generation still have the passion for their homeland and its traditions.