The main focus of this thesis is to describe the values and economic strategies for the Deng generation as the result of China's transition to market liberalism, hereunder how the individual's strategies are manifested within spheres of education, profession, marriage and Party membership. This thesis asks: In which ways is the Deng generation - the young urban Chinese - influenced by the introduction to market liberalism? And further, how does the economic pressure resulting from the transition to a market system result in strategies for daily life?
The shift from planned economy to market economy has had a massive impact on the Chinese society. The ambition of this thesis is to take an anthropological approach to understanding how the recent developments specifically have influenced the Chinese in their twenties, living in Shanghai. One important consequence of the economic reforms for them is that the state no longer can afford to pay for a welfare system as omnipresent as that of the Mao generation. Therefore, the responsibility of taking care of the older generations has moved from the state to the families, which in practice means that a heavy burden is placed on the shoulders of the young generation. The young Chinese are facing a time of high economic pressure.
The "Deng generation" is the young Chinese who have lived their whole life during the Deng Xiaoping era. All of the informants in this thesis have a university education, which means that the focus is on the fortunate part of the Deng generation, those who have all the opportunities in today's China - the potential future elite. The one child policy results in a shift of power between women and men in the Deng generation. The thesis will explore how they cope with the current situation in China: the economic pressure, establishing economic strategies, and the process of establishing an adult life.