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Abstract

The term ‘rice bowl of youth’ first appeared in the late 1980s with China’s opening-up policy. The rice bowl of youth refers to the urban trend in which a range of new, highly paid positions have opened almost exclusively to young women. the meanings ‘rice bowl of youth’ has altered in the media and daily use since the early 21st century. The ‘rice bowl of youth’ has been gradually developed a new version from the original unchaste and sexualized metaphor to emphasize more the anxiety of maintaining the physical vigor to be competent in professions that ask for a continuous investment of energy and free from family responsibility. This article takes golf caddies in China as an example to illustrate the transformation of youth, labor, and migration in China. I argue that the situation of young female golf caddies cannot be depicted by either of the traditional and new ‘rice bowl of youth’ alone. On the one hand, the caddies’ appearance and gender identity offer them a lucrative employment opportunity. On the other hand, the caddies are overly exploited of the labor in their most energetic age and are forced to leave the industry when they are not capable to undertake the demanding work and are obliged to get married by the social clock.

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