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PhD-course: Modernization, Gender and Generation – Reconfigurations of Everyday Life
October 21, 2017 - 21:29
PhD-course Modernization, Gender and Generation – Reconfigurations of Everyday Life at Nordic Centre Fudan organized by the Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network and Centre for Gender Research at University of Oslo
On May 19-21 the 3rd PhD-course arranged by the Centre for Gender Research in Oslo in collaboration with the Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network took place at the Nordic Centre at Fudan University. The theme of the course was Modernization, Gender and Generation – Reconfigurations of Everyday Life. Led by Professor Harriet Bjerrum Nielsen, University of Oslo, ten teachers – from China, Denmark and Norway – and 25 PhD students or researchers from China and the Nordic countries participated. After the course the teachers met to commence the work towards the 6th Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Conference which will take place in at the University of Oslo in 2017.
The intention with the PhD course was to bring together researchers and PhD students from the Nordic countries, China or and elsewhere, who share research interests in gender and generational relations, and processes and conceptions of modernization and individualization. What could we learn about each other, and what could we learn about ourselves from looking with others’ eyes? The participants were invited to take part in a mutual exchange of knowledge and a dialogue on what processes and concepts of modernization, individualization and feminism may entail in different contexts.
Modernization and individualisation processes intervene in fundamental ways in everyday life and especially have a transformatory effect on gender and generational relations. Is it possible to understand more of these historical dynamics by comparing so disparate processes of modernization as those which have taken place in the Nordic countries and China? Are there, in spite of the huge differences in regard to size, culture, history and political regimes, also some common features attached to industrialization and urbanization and the tensions these create between genders and generations? And if so, how does the new global interfaces affect this?
There are similarities, but also big differences. The comparison highlighted how the development of Nordic gender equality has had radically different conditions compared to the Chinese: the relatively egalitarian North-Western European family structure, a welfare state which has catered to gender equality in the family and to a high degree of economic independence between generations. Gender equality, as well as the family and educational policies supporting it, has been gradually developed in the afterwar period. In the case of China the development has been more discontinuous, with complex cultural threads back to the gender regimes of Confucianism and communism, as well as to present day market liberalism. Even though women in China, as in the Nordic countries, do better in higher education, it does not lead to the same degree of increased gender equality. Strong family values, increasing competition and harsh conditions in the labor market, traditional gender thinking, and increased economic dependency between generations contribute to discipline the young generation and to notable processes of regendering.
The course program offered lectures on Nordic and Chinese processes of modernization, with a special regard to the young generation, the new middle class, and Chinese feminism. Twenty of the 25 participants took the opportunity to present their ongoing projects – which embraced an abundance of relevant themes, for instance, Child-rearing across three generations, the consequences of one-child politics for the well-being of old parents, “Vietnamese brides” in China, drinking patterns among young Danes, and changes in legal cultures in China, Greenland and Denmark.
The conference in 2017 in Oslo will continue along the same thematic lines, including a focus on what gender equality means and what it entails in different cultural and political contexts.