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Chinese Discourses on Happiness$
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Gerda Wielander and Derek Hird

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455720

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455720.001.0001

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Happiness in Chinese Socialist Discourse

Happiness in Chinese Socialist Discourse

Ah Q and the “Visible Hand”

(p.25) 1 Happiness in Chinese Socialist Discourse
Chinese Discourses on Happiness

Gerda Wielander

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter analyzes the appearance of happiness in public and political discourse in China in the wider context of socialist modernization underpinned by Chinese socialist views of the psyche. It examines the link between the spiritual and the political and argues that the current emphasis on happiness needs to be understood as a continued effort on the part of the CCP to instil the “correct spirit” in China’s population. The author argues that in this process Lu Xun’s Ah Q has turned from a symbol of feudal decay into a role model for China’s citizens. The chapter draws on a range of conceptual frameworks from cultural studies, psychology, sociology and anthropology in its analysis of the tension between individual and collective happiness and the strategies adopted by the CCP, as ruling party, to address it. Examples from a debate on happiness held in the journal Zhongguo Qingnian中國青年‎ in the 1950s and 1960s are juxtaposed with contemporary sources to illustrate the continuity and differences in the Chinese socialist debates on happiness over the decades.

Keywords:   Ah Q, Spiritual Victory, Positive Psychology, Socialist Discourse, Role Models, Suzhi

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