Where does personal culture come from? Implications of educational social mobility in the Chinese cultural change

Francisco OLIVOS (Presenter), Peng WANG

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


An ongoing debate in cultural sociology discusses how culture change occurs. The evidence indicates that individuals seldom update their personal culture. Instead, changes are driven by generational replacement. These findings suggest that most of the personal culture in adulthood is part of dispositions settled in early life stages during socialization. However, college education has been suggested as one of the potential mechanisms that could lead to changes in the personal culture. Thus, people who attain higher education are more likely to update culture. This study builds on this literature to ask whether intergenerational educational mobility can contribute to these changes. The central hypothesis is that upwardly and downwardly mobile individuals are informed by the experience of different social origins and destinations. Therefore, their personal culture is explained by both experiences, and not only early socialization as suggested by settled dispositions theory. We test these two competing hypotheses using a large of attitudes, beliefs, self-assessments, self-perceptions, and social behaviors that were asked in the 2018 China Family Panel Survey. Since Chinese educational expansion brings intergenerational mobility into sharper relief, this case study is particularly relevant to studying education's implications for cultural change.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2021
EventChina and Higher Education 2021 Conference - Hong Kong Session: Education and SDGs: Promoting Quality Education for All - Lingnan University , Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
Duration: 6 Dec 20216 Dec 2021


ConferenceChina and Higher Education 2021 Conference - Hong Kong Session
Abbreviated title#ChinaHE21
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityTuen Mun
Internet address


  • Personal culture
  • China
  • Social mobility
  • Cultural change


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