Marriage and aspirations in contemporary Shanghai (completed)

Yuqin Huang

In addition to the heated discussion about the 30-million possible unmarriageable bachelors mainly from rural areas, anxieties about “leftover women” (Shengnu) in first-tier Chinese cities, who have difficulties to find a marriage partner after a certain age, have become prominent in recent years. By volunteering in a non-profit marriage agency in Shanghai, I will explore the following issues: how “marriage” has become a political power again; how the issue of “Shengnu” has been perceived and interpreted by the different parties involved, including those running of the association, the agency founder, the media, local government officials as representatives of the state, volunteers and the potential courtship/marriage partners; and the elements that could shape marriage aspirations. This project is particularly concerned about how contemporary socio-economic transformations, especially skyrocketing housing prices and living expenses, have impacted and shaped people’s aspirations in relation to courtship and marriage in contemporary Shanghai, and how these aspirations differ across gender, age and region of origin. As a result, the complex entanglement between courtship/marriage, urban aspirations, media, the state and civil society in contemporary Shanghai is considered.

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