China's social youth

Jay Caplan
China Youthology

Jay Caplan considers the cultural roles of social media for Chinese youth living in the country's top tier cities compared with those in tier-3 and tier-4 cities.

There is no shortage of statistics trumpeting the rise of internet and social media use in China. But for marketers, these numbers raise more questions than they answer. China is a vast, fragmented market with uneven development. What does social media mean to Chinese consumers, and does social media play different roles for consumers in lower tier cities compared with top tier cities?

This article is about the cultural roles of social media for Chinese youth in top tier cities compared with those in tier-3 and tier-4 cities. The insights are based on ethnographic fieldwork in the top tier cities Beijing and Shanghai, and the lower tier cities Jilin, Tangshan, Xuzhou, Zhaoqing, Yiyang and Guangan.

Closer in culture