1. Process of Obtaining Information

During this course, I took interest in the topic of education and career path. The evolvement of education and career path is a topic of wide concern as quite a few people are interested in how education inter-related with individual career path. For this diagram, I intend looked into the education and career path in a Chinese family, focusing on how education been improved over generations, how education is correlated to individual’s career path, how this correlation is impacted by the historical environment, and how gender might affect the education and career path of individuals in a family.

Through a face to face interview with my best friend, Ann, a Chinese girl, we discussed the education and career path of Ann’s family members.  The key questions were, “What’s your (family member)’s studying experience?”, “What’s your (family member)’s job and plans?”, “Are there any other families in your home town have similar development path like yours?”

I conducted the interview in a Sunday night with Ann in a Starbucks cafe. With informed consent, I recorded the interview with my smartphone. The reason why I did not use a dictaphone was that a strange device was more likely to cause stress and uncomfortable feelings on the interviewee. I intended to create a fully free experience for my interviewee throughout the interview. Given that Ann came from an extended family, I focused the kinship diagram on close relatives, including grandparents, parents and her parents’ siblings, and her siblings, which is shown on the kinship diagram I attached. Furthermore, she knows more about her close relatives, as they played significant roles in her life and impacted her values.

We have been friends since we were around 4-year-old, the close relationship allowed Ann to feel free when answering my questions and illustrating her families’ education and career path to me. Therefore, we had a very smooth and successful interview. Inspiring, she was very interested in my topic and proactivity provide me quite a few information about her family around the topic. In the course of organizing the fieldwork materials, we continued to have further communication on this topic.

  1. Trends and Themes

Ann’s family enjoys a long history, but all the history went to ash due to the warfare and domestic convulsions in modern history. The People’s Republic of China established in 1949, while Ann’s grand parents were born in 1930s and they have experienced a series of reform and reorganisation throughout of their life. Some were good for them, while others even led their lives to worse conditions. Ann’s grandmother was not allowed to school as she was a daughter of a “landowner”. In 1950, China initiated the Land Reform and all landowners were defined as guilty persons. In consequence, their property was exploited, and their children were not allowed to school.

Due to the domestic convulsions, Ann’s grandfather had no father when he was born, and he was too poor to go to school. However, he furtively learnt how to read and write at the window of a village school. Due to the limitation of the country’s policies and economic strength, Ann’s grandparents had no education experience and worked as farmer for a lifetime. But the capacity to read and write brought Ann’s grandparents quite a few advantages, as he was one of the few who can read and write, he was appointed as a village officer for more than 20 years. Notably, his experience as village officer seems played insignificant roles on the family’s future development.

By recognizing the significance of knowledge, Ann’s grandparents spare no efforts to send all of their five children to schools, including their girls. In a society with long history of patriarchal, girls tend to be less important like boys. Their movements were inspiring, as at that time the Feudal China was just died around twenty years ago, and new thoughts of gender equality haven’t prevalent the nation as today. Thanks to their efforts, three of their five children accomplished a bachelor degree, a master degree, and a PhD degree respectively. The three now occupied in considerable decent positions as managers, business owners, and researchers.

Their eldest daughter dropped out from school when she was a high school student. According to Ann’s aunt, she dropped out from school for two reasons: for one, she was the eldest child, and in Chinese families, the eldest child usually has more responsibility for her/his siblings; for another, possibly, because she was a daughter rather than a son. Ann’s father was a talented person who wanted to be a poet and writer, but his genius earned him envy from his teachers. The latter prevent his father from participating in the college entrance examination, which is the only approach for high school students to go university at that time. He worked on factory for a decade until he got his first daughter, Ann’s sister. Driven by the eager to free from the city and to write, he resigned and backed the place he was boron and became a farmer and writer. At Ann’s generation, from 1985 in her family, all children have the opportunity to enjoy higher education. Almost all acquired a bachelor’s degree or will go university in a few years.

From the kinship diagram, we figured out that in a peaceful nation under rapid development, higher education usually correlated with better career development, and there were significant education and career improvements over generations. Despite that improved education and career over generations in the nation, the extents of improvements rely on last generation’s values on “education”.

There is no significant gender inequality in Ann’s family on education and career, but for the nation as a whole, women still has less opportunity for education than boys on average, especially in remote areas; and as for career, it is the common case that women tend, willingly or unwillingly, to spend more time on their families than their male counterparts.