SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

From courtship culture to dating culture: China's single child generation and the transformation of the value placed on love

William Jankowiak (University of Nevada)

Date: 25 March 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 25 March 2019Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online Registration


The discourse of love and sexual expression has moved out of China’s urban shadows and into its commercial arteries. It was once forbidden to express it in public, but now it is the currency by which individuals seek to demonstrate their continuing commitment and mutual involvement. In contemporary China love is hot. My talk explores the cognitive models of love and rules for sexual expression as they were found in urban China twenty years ago and how they are being redefined in recent times in terms of commitment and mutual involvement. I explore some of the sociological, existential, and evolutionary significance of Chinese society’s shift away from a more formal courtship practice to an informal dating culture.


Professor William R. Jankowiak is currently Barrick Distinguish Professor in the Anthropology Department, College of Liberal Arts of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and serves as executive director of the Forum for Asian Studies. He is an internationally recognized authority on urban Chinese society, urban Mongols, Mormon fundamentalist polygyny, and love around the world. Professor Jankowiak is often invited to present the results of his research as well called on by media to provide background information on various topics. His research has been features in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, Time magazine, NPR, History Channel, TLC, ABC Primetime, and NBC. Professor Jankowiak has authored over 115 academic and professional publications. He is the author of Sex, Death, and Hierarchy in a Chinese City: An Anthropological Account (Columbia University, 1993) and (with Robert Moore) Family Life in China (Polity Press, 2016); editor of Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience? (Columbia University, 1995), Intimacies: Between Love and Sex (Columbia University, 2008), and (with Dan Bradburd) Stimulating Trade: Drugs, Labor and Expansion (Arizona University, 2003).

Chair: Dr Jieyu Liu

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4823