Family Life in China
November 2016, Polity
The family has long been viewed as both a microcosm of the state and a barometer of social change in China. It is no surprise, therefore, that the dramatic changes experienced by Chinese society over the past century have produced a wide array of new family systems.
Where a widely accepted Confucian-based ideology once offered a standard framework for family life, current ideas offer no such uniformity. Ties of affection rather than duty have become prominent in determining what individuals feel they owe to their spouses, parents, children, and others. Chinese millennials, facing a world of opportunities and, at the same time, feeling a sense of heavy obligation, are reshaping patterns of courtship, marriage, and filiality in ways that were not foreseen by their parents nor by the authorities of the Chinese state. Those whose roots are in the countryside but who have left their homes to seek opportunity and adventure in the city face particular pressures as do the children and elders they have left behind. The authors explore this diversity focusing on rural vs. urban differences, regionalism, and ethnic diversity within China.
Family Life in China presents new perspectives on what the current changes in this institution imply for a rapidly changing society.
2 Kinship, Friends and the Multigenerational Family
3 Chinese Families: Ethnic Variations
4 Courtship and Marriage: Twentieth-Century Transformations
5 The Preference for the Affection-Based Marriage
6 Parenting Philosophy and Practice
7 Parents, Adolescents, and Emerging Adults
Conclusion: Intergenerational Exceptions and Uncertainties
Robert L. Moore is Professor of Anthropology and Director of International Affairs at Rollins College
Myron Cohen, Columbia University
“We used to see 'the Chinese family' as a fairly uniform institution shaped by Confucian values. Not any more! Chinese families have had to adapt to a bewildering array of social changes. How they have altered as a result is the focus of this wide-ranging and fascinating volume.”
Martin K. Whyte, Emeritus Department of Sociology, Harvard University
"Beyond the excellent description of changing family relationships over the past 120 years, Jankowiak and Moore parsimoniously summarize the significance of an analytic shift from a focus on lineage and corporate family interests to one that privileges affective emotion and individual desires among family members. Both the general reader and undergraduate student will benefit greatly from these distinctions as they conceptualize change over time. [...] It would work well as a required reading in a course on changing families across the world or one on modern Chinese society" - Deborah Davis, The China Journal
"Family Life in China provides a broad historical and ethnographic overview on changes in family life. As such it is a particularly useful introduction for students in sociology, ethnology or sinology and for all those interested in everyday life in China." New Books Asia