Based on her latest article, When anxious mothers meet social media, LSE’s Bingchun Meng looks at how parental anxiety amongst parents from across China’s socio-economic spectrum is rife, and in the case of the middle-classes, is being exacerbated by conversations with other parents on social media communications platforms.
Pressure on parents to make the ‘right’ choices and purchases for their child is shown to be a significant source of anxiety across all sections of China’s society: working class and middle-class parents exist in different cultures with different lifestyles, but they are united in their anxiety around their children. They both want the best for their families: for middle class parents, this means not following behind from their peers, for working -class parents’, their aspiration is oriented toward moving up the socio-economic ladder. However, middle-class parents worry more, and intervene more often, because they have the relative luxury of having the time and means to support their children, whereas working class families do not.
For this project, I interviewed 28 mothers in Shanghai, China, either individually or through focus groups. Just like anywhere else, women are often the more influential parent in heterosexual couples. Mothers assume primary responsibility for the physical, emotional and intellectual wellbeing of children, and the expectation of good mothering is fulfilled by practicing the right kind of consumption in relation to childrearing. Through