The post-80s generation in Beijing: collective memory and generational identity

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Abstract

This article questions the relevance of the notion of generation to describe the cohort who lives in Beijing and who was born in the 1980s and early 1990s, after the implementation of the reforms and opening-up policy in China. The analysis relies on 627 questionnaires collected in Beijing in 2010. The sample was stratified by age and sex, and, based on quotas; it was split into five age groups (18-26 year-olds, 33-41 year-olds, 48-56 year-olds, 63-71 year-olds and 78-86 year-olds). The respondents were questioned on their perception of turning points and socio-historical changes that occurred during their lifetime. After having analysed the data in a comparative perspective, we came to conclusion that the word generation is suitable to describe the young people from Beijing born in the 1980s and early 1990s not only because they do share autobiographical and collective historical memories, but also because these memories have by and large taken place between their adolescence and entry into adulthood (supporting the hypothesis of the existence of a reminiscence bump).

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