Thesis-Matthew Beccaria

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  • THE EFFECTS OF MATERIALISM ON CHINESE COLLEGE STUDENTS ATTITUDES

    TOWARD MARRIAGE AND FUTURE LIFE PARTNERS

    By

    Matthew D. Beccaria

    Advised by Dr. Yi Schuler

    A Masters Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for

    the Degree of Master of Arts in International Studies

    in the School of Professional Studies

    Concordia University

    Irvine California

    07/31/2013

  • EFFECTS OF MATERIALISM ON COLLEGE STUDENTS MARITAL CHOICES 2

    Abstract

    With the introduction of materialism into modern Chinese society, attitudes toward marriage and

    future life partners transform in a rapidly changing environment. As the current generation of

    youth rises along with Chinas increasing global influence, so does the demand for material

    goods for the sake of security and stability. The purpose of this study is to identify whether or

    not there is a significant attitude difference between gender toward marriage and future life

    partners. By using random sampling, 406 Chinese college students (N = 406) primarily from

    Hangzhou, Zhejiang China were surveyed to examine their attitudes toward marriage and future

    life partners in relationship to materialism. Quantitative methods were used, utilizing ANOVA

    analysis as well as univariate analysis. The research concludes that there are differences between

    genders when perceiving a potential life partner and their materialistic wealth, yet both genders

    attitudes toward their own materialistic wealth has less significance. Findings also suggest that

    although Chinese college students value materialism, they are not opposed to selecting future life

    partners without materialistic wealth if the prospective partner works diligently. This suggests

    that materialism, although important, may not be the only criteria when considering marriage and

    a future life partner.

    Keywords: China, college student, materialism, life partner, marriage, marital choice

  • EFFECTS OF MATERIALISM ON COLLEGE STUDENTS MARITAL CHOICES 3

    Acknowledgements

    This research is dedicated to my grandfather, Frank Beccaria. This research could not

    have been made possible without the help of several other important individuals: My advisor, Dr.

    Yi Schuler, who graciously guided and mentored me throughout the year. Nikko Zhou, who

    helped to translate my survey into Chinese and advised me during discussions of materialisms

    increasing importance in Chinese society. Max, who helped to re-translate the second draft of my

    survey. Most importantly, my parents David and Kristin Beccaria who have endured the long

    arduous duty of watching their son live abroad in foreign countries and have continued their

    support through all my life goals and ambitions. Thank you all, you are forever in my thanks.

  • EFFECTS OF MATERIALISM ON COLLEGE STUDENTS MARITAL CHOICES 4

    Table of Contents

    Introduction ....................................................................................................................6

    China: An Overview ................................................................................................6

    Research Topic/Questions .......................................................................................7

    Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................7

    Key Terms ................................................................................................................8

    Literature Review...........................................................................................................9

    1949-1978: Marriage and the Importance of Political Involvement ........................9

    1978-Present: Changes in Marriage, The Incorporation of Materialistic Pursuits.12

    Home Life as Defined by Materialistic Pursuits Based on Gender Outlooks ........16

    Summary ................................................................................................................19

    Methodology ................................................................................................................20

    Research Design.....................................................................................................20

    Instrument ..............................................................................................................21

    Subjects ..................................................................................................................22

    Ethical Considerations ...........................................................................................22

    Results ..........................................................................................................................23

    Demographics ........................................................................................................23

    Data Analysis ...............................................................................................................26

    Attitudes Toward Materialism: Univariate Analysis .............................................27

    The Importance of Materialism and Status: Bivariate Analysis ............................30

  • EFFECTS OF MATERIALISM ON COLLEGE STUDENTS MARITAL CHOICES 5

    Discussion and Conclusion ..........................................................................................33

    Materialism Providing Sense of Happiness and Security/Stability .......................34

    Attitudes towards the Importance of Materialism among Gender .........................34

    Importance of Possessing a Stable Job, House ......................................................36

    Consideration of Diligence ....................................................................................37

    Limitations .............................................................................................................37

    Future Research .....................................................................................................37

    References ....................................................................................................................39

    Appendices ...................................................................................................................43

    Appendix A Survey (English) ................................................................................43

    Appendix B Survey (Chinese) ...............................................................................46

  • EFFECTS OF MATERIALISM ON COLLEGE STUDENTS MARITAL CHOICES 6

    Introduction

    China: An Overview

    The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) was established on October 1, 1949, with the city of

    Beijing as acting capital. Between 1945 and 1949, China was in a civil war when the Communist

    and Nationalist troops fought for national power. After PRC was established, Maoist thought

    spread through many political and social campaigns, giving way to Utopian ideals that stressed

    and placed importance on uniformity and political support within families. The communist

    structure was based on the proletariat class and the peasantry, opposed to the Nationalist party

    which was centralized around the bourgeois or capitalist class (Aldabek, Assyl, Dauyen, &

    Serikkaliyeva, 2012).

    Throughout the last few decades, China has reformed its policies and directed its attention

    toward modernization of cities, economy and its society. Progressive advancement grounded in

    economic achievements, gain of welfare for its citizens and political stability have become a

    role model for other developing nations (Aldabek, Assyl, Dauyen, & Serikkaliyeva, 2012).

    Western methods and materialism have impacted Chinese society in many ways from consumers

    to big business, allowing for its incredible growth, which is expected to continue over the next

    couple of decades. According to some, this perception has left an imprint that China will soon be

    the worlds acting superpower (Subramanian, 2011).

    In addition, the central role of Chinese citizens is no longer focused around political

    involvement as it was during Mao Zedongs leadership. The driving force in Chinese society has

    evolved into a consumer based society that idolizes materialism, perceiving the ability to make

    money as the central defining characteristic for success. As China continues to open to the world,

    it is increasingly closer to becoming the leading competitor in the global market. Therefore, its

  • EFFECTS OF MATERIALISM ON COLLEGE STUDENTS MARITAL CHOICES 7

    new global role has allowed for new societal expectations (Boshier & Yan, 2010).

    Research Topic.

    The central research topic under study is materialisms affects on Chinese college

    student's attitudes toward marriage and future life partners within the city of Hangzhou, China.

    The study explores how materialistic pursuits such as a house, a car and a steady income impact

    Chinese college student's decisions when contemplating potential life partners. It examines the

    differences between gender and social status and how materialism affects people's decisions

    regarding marriage within these categories. These social factors provide insights on how various

    factors can alter perceptions on marriage among college students in Hangzhou, China, which

    may give some insight into the society as