Birds of a feather flock together : a case study of Chinese Guangchangwu dama in a super-diverse city
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to critically examine how older women interact, perform to their heart's content, learn music, and communicate across cultures around square dancing in a Chinese context. The paper explores how retired Chinese grandmothers use square dancing to build social interactions, find friendships and integrate into diverse group life. It also considers the identity backgrounds of the square dance grandmothers and the region's long history of multicultural integration. It investigates how the Square dance community can further undermine cultural conflict and accelerate the integration of multi-ethnic and immigrant populations. To answer the research questions, I selected a specific square dance community in Dongying, China, and obtained information through semi-structured in-depth interviews. The interview transcripts were also analyzed through manual coding and digital coding. I also examined the positioning of square dancing in the daily life, local context, and social environment of older dancers. The findings suggest that square dance communities meet the recreational, self-esteem, and social needs of square dance grannies. Through daily interactions in different ’Conviviality microspaces‘ over time, the dancers established unified values and friendship, accelerated integration among newcomers, residents, and minorities, and developed a strong sense of community belonging. Dancing grannies create a deep collegial relationship(they described as ‘sisterhood’) in the community. Music participation provides a platform for dancing grannies to learn from each other and co-create music, helping them to build self-confidence, gain spiritual satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment, and accelerate individualization. The value of musical participation is reflected in the potential for those retired women to gain autonomy and control over their later life. The paper further demonstrates that the digital media consumption of square dancing grannies supports, to some extent, different aspects of the integration process, such as access to necessary information and shared values. Social media enables them to become more aware of their community identity and accelerates the formation of a Conviviality atmosphere for square dancing. Of course, offline practices in daily life remain crucial for integration within the community.
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