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Accepted Paper:

The fragility of the elite: on the double-binds of higher education in Beijing  
Susanne Bregnbæk (University of Copenhagen)

Paper long abstract:

At Chinese elite universities instances of suicide are common. This paper seeks to explore the existential tensions that are tied to coming of age under the One Child Policy, which was introduced by Dengxiao Ping in 1978. This entailed creating an elite of talented individuals who could lead China into the first world. This paper intends to bring together the perspective of individual lives in crisis and the public realm struggling to reconcile Confucian values with ideas of development and progress. The paper argues that elite university students to some extent face a double bind, as they try to live up to the imperative of filial piety, in the form of respecting their parents as well as teachers and the state: while simultaneously seeking to appropriate ideals of becoming self-actualized and to realize their inner potential. The notion of double-binds is seen as tied to moral quandaries that are part of the human condition.

Panel W079
Elite groups, crisis and imagination
  Session 1