Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 7-24

First online:

The Transformation of Everyday Social Experience: What a Mental and Social Health Perspective Reveals about Chinese Communities under Global and Local Change

  • Arthur KleinmanAffiliated withDepartment of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical SchoolDepartment of Anthropology, Harvard University
  • , Joan KleinmanAffiliated withDepartment of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School

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Chinese communities in East Asia are undergoing great economic and social change. The result includes material prosperity but also worsening mental and social health indices. Epidemiological studies clarify the magnitude of these problems and the particular vulnerability of women and the elderly. Ethnographic studies indicate that moral experience is also changing, and that with it subjectivity is being altered in ways that are of concern. And yet it is not clear, in historical perspective, how to assess these changes when they are compared to the extraordinarily difficult experiences of the Chinese over most of the Century.