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The "leftover women" phenomenon in China : a thematic analysis of media and interpersonal understandings of a gendered concept

English Abstract

This study focuses on the popular term “leftover women,” and examines it as communicated both by mass media, and in interpersonal communication among youth in contemporary China. Data were collected from an examination of two commercial advertisements, two focus groups, eight in-depth interviews and participantobservation; these were examined using thematic analysis. This study broadens our understanding of the leftover women’s image in mass media, pays particular attention to leftover women’s image in commercial advertisements, and shows how this image can be framed as positive. As contemporary China is still influenced of China’s patriarchal structure, this study also examines the importance of males’ perspectives, and finds they do play an important role in the leftover women issue. This study shows that contemporary views of marriage contribute to this issue in three ways: today’s young females hold to a higher standard when choosing spouses, females are concerned with the relationship with prospective mothers-in-law, and parents exhibit high expectations on their daughters’ marriage. Therefore, this thesis fills a gap in our understanding of how the concept of the “leftover woman” influences and is resisted by the generation of Chinese woman born after the 1990s

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Li, Sheng Mei


Faculty of Social Sciences


Department of Communication




Single women -- China

Man-woman relationships -- China


Sandel, Todd L.

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