Summary of Winning and Losing in Modern China

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The literal translation of the Chinese term diaosi is inappropriate to discuss here; suffice it to say that the insult emerged from Internet gaming obscurity. But now a majority of China’s young men proudly identify as diaosi. Based on personal conversations with these self-proclaimed losers, anthropologist Graham Candy’s article explains the phenomenon and what it teaches about Chinese society. getAbstract recommends this rich glimpse into Chinese culture to readers interested in modern masculinity, middle-class mediocrity, corruption, gaming and digital vigilantism.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why a majority of Chinese young men feel excluded from the “Chinese Dream,”
  • What else these diaosi have in common, and
  • How they are blowing the whistle on corrupt Chinese public officials.

About the Author

University of Toronto doctoral student Graham Candy is a Canadian anthropologist. He studies the effects of the Internet on modern social relations.



Chinese president Xi Jinping began his reign in 2012 touting the concept of Zhong Guo Meng, or the “Chinese Dream.” He outlined aspirations, intent to energize the nation’s youth to continue China’s growth. This generation had benefited from China’s unrestrained economic expansion since the 1980s. They are mobile, educated and have more opportunities than their parents could have imagined. But approximately 25% of Chinese don’t share Xi’s optimism – the portion of the population that identifies as diaosi. The term roughly means “loser.” It describes someone with a lack of guanxi (social connections), a penchant for online gaming and a slim chance of passing on his genes. Marriage isn’t a certainty for a generation that has 120 men for every 100 women, particularly when a man can’t afford a car or a home, both of which most Chinese consider prerequisites for marriage. 

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