What defines "happiness," and how can we get it? The ways in which people in China ask and answer this universal question tell us a lot about the tensions and challenges they face during periods of remarkable political and economic change.
Based on a five-year original study conducted by a select team of China experts, The Chinese Pursuit of Happiness begins with the assumption that when Chinese citizens assess themselves as "happy," they are primarily making a judgment of their lives and social relationships. Through ethnography and in-depth interviews, the contributors to this book show how different dimensions of happiness are manifest in the moral and ethical understandings that embed individuals in specific communities and the various spheres of everyday life. Vividly describing the moral dilemmas experienced in contemporary Chinese society, the rituals of happiness performed in modern weddings, the practices of conviviality carried out in shared meals, the professional tensions confronted by social workers, and the hopes and frustrations shared by political reformers, this important study illuminates the causes of anxiety and reasons for hope in China today.