Catch Phrase | 社会时钟(shèhuì shízhōng)

Writer: Debra Li  |  Editor: Stephanie Yang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2022-05-24


Translated from the English term “social clock,” it refers to a culturally preferred “timetable” of important transitions in life. It reflects the “normal” social expectations given by a culture about when the transitional events like marriage, having kids, or retirement should take place. American psychologist Erik H. Erikson put forth a theory that defines the social clock as age-graded expectations for life events. Age appropriate behavior, also related to the concepts of maturity and immaturity, is associated with social clocks ticking in different societies the world over. Some young people in China recently expressed their anxiety on social media about their failing to follow the “norms” and are therefore “going against the social clock,” which became a hot topic for discussion.


A: 你爸妈催你生孩子吗?

Nǐ bàmā cuī nǐ shēng háizi ma?

Did your parents urge you to start a family?

B: 我从来都没按照社会时钟生活,他们知道催也没用。

Wǒ cónglái dōu méi ànzhào shèhuì shízhōng shēnghuó,tāmen zhīdào cuī yě méiyòng。

I’ve never followed the social clock, and my parents know they can do nothing about it.