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Family Life in China

Family Life in China

William R. Jankowiak, Robert L. Moore

ISBN: 978-0-745-68555-7

Dec 2016, Polity

232 pages

In Stock



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.

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1. The Chinese Family - Enduring Ideals and Changing Realities

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
“We are fortunate to have Jankowiak and Moore’s new book, which fills a large gap in the literature and carries the description of changing family dynamics up to the present. It is an ideal text for both undergraduate and graduate courses dealing with family, kinship, or more generally with society and social change in China.” - 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