Definitions of Happiness in Shanghai: A Focus Group Study

By Momoyo K. Shibuya.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies

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This study depicts the images of a good, happy life which the middle and lower classes in Shanghai have today in order to see their main concern and consider the impact of urbanisation on their social cultural values. In particular, close attention was paid to the balance of influencing factors, including health, wealth, and family relationship, as well as its differences with the tradition, if any. The data were collected in 2013, through focus group technique. All conversations were recorded, transcribed, and then coded for analysis. In the result, Shanghainese definition of a happy life is multi-layered, depending on the circumstances where people find themselves. The difference between the middle and lower classes in the concept of a happy life has clearly appeared: The middle class finds themselves happy with their current moderate life, whereas the lower class thinks of a happy life as fulfilling all of their material desires. However, they both maintain family-centred personal networks, and family members’ better life is regarded crucial, or even prioritised over own self-fulfillment needs, in considering individual well-being. This suggests that the Asian individual well-being and happy life can be appropriately considered from Asian perspective rather than within the Western-induced framework.

Keywords: East Asia, Urban Lifestyle, Focus Group

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, Volume 11, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 757.824KB).

Dr. Momoyo K. Shibuya

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Science, Saitama University, Saitama, Japan