This study investigates the emergence and transformation of the Shidu’s (that is losing family’s only one child) identity and community within their life reconstruction. Its purpose is to understand: 1) Is there any possibility that Shidu organization can develop into a community? 2) And how can the Shidu identity and community help this group to accomplish an active life reconstruction?
The investigation combines meaning reconstruction, identity, and community conceptualized by Neimeyer, Beck and Bauman, and then develop a research framework. Using this framework, the study conducts 15 in-depth interviews and three-month participant observation among the Shidu in a city of central China. The study also traces the historical events influencing the formation and development of the Shidu in the Chinese social transformation. The events include the implementation of One-child Policy dating from 1979, the regulation of assistance policies from the diverse region as well as state’s weak response to this group.
The analysis shows that the Shidu’s life trajectory emerges similarity because of the shaping of the historical events. These people across diverse stratum and region, has appeared as a self-identifying group as well as labeled themselves as “Shidu”, and further set up their own organization. It illustrates that to understand the Shidu identity and community, we have to look into various social events among them in the specific historical context. In this respect, the analysis explicates how the Shidu identity is constructed in the historical context and how they reconstructed their life with the help of Shidu organization.
Besides, the study further suggests that in the transition from an organization to the community, Shidu organization mostly emerges new power relationship and has not escaped the dilemma of polarization. These can undermine their identity and community, then influence their trajectory of life reconstruction.