Adam’s Thoughts on Field Projects

When someone asks you, “what do you want to do fieldwork on while you are in China?” you are left with a feeling of blankness. What kind of a question is that? I barely even know what fieldwork is. I have never been to China; I speak Chinese like a kindergartner; and there are so many things that I want to study that it is impossible to even consider just one. Hence the feeling of blankness. When I picture myself doing research in China I feel lost. Step one: consider my interests. I like business and the idea of Chinese international relations fascinates me. A good start. I guess the aspects of Chinese business culture and international relations that excites me the most is the future. People are always trying to speculate about where ┬áthe Chinese economy is going and what China’s role in the international political arena will look like in twenty years. However, I firmly believe that the answers to these questions rest not in the current leadership or the 5th Peoples Congress, but in youth of China. It is the students who are college today who will shape China’s future. What do they see? What do they want for China? What is there vision?

My first thought for cultural fieldwork involves going where students congregate and feel most at ease. Away from the pressures of academia and learning about what these students think about capitalism. This sounds simplistic and I know it. But this is more than asking “what do you think about capitalism?” It is about learning how China’s shift to a market economy has shaped their lives. How does their view differ from the view of their parents? How do these generational differences shape their outlook on China’s changing economy. I have read articles about the expansion of western franchises into China with interest and the growth of global markets into a previously untapped China poses many unique questions for the Chinese commercial markets. Perhaps this is the Business major side of me that wants to explore the views of a system that, for so long, was a completely separate market, unheard of in today’s intermeshed and globalized market system.

 

My second consideration for fieldwork in China involves China’s changing role in the global power structure, especially in Asia. I have always loved studying politics and International relations, though I am formally studying neither. But I also firmly believe that the course of nations is set by the people, not the politicians. By exploring what ordinary college students think about China’s role in global politics, a better understanding of China’s future emerges. I have often wondered how much of what the political elite in all governments say is just posturing and how much reflects popular sentiment.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to refine these ideas so I can narrow my focus and craft a cohesive plan of action to tackle one of these (or maybe neither of these) in my research.