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Rethinking gender, migration, and power : the emergence of a disciplinary order in contemporary China Feng, Lisi

Abstract

Since its implementation in 1958, the household registration system in China has been powerful state institution to determine rural peasants’ mobility to urban areas. For more than two decades, rural-to-urban mobility had been stifled. It was not until the post-Mao regime initiated economic reforms that rural peasants were able to work in urban areas. The household registration system has decisively transformed China into a dualistic society where rural and urban areas are distinctively divided. In addition to the rural-urban division, another great social divide in China is the one between women and men. Under Mao’s regime, improved gender relations were achieved to a certain extent by socialist organizations that controlled most aspects of daily life. However, since the reforms were introduced in 1978, Chinese women have not benefited from the process of reform to the same extent as men; the subordination of women has been reinforced and increased in numerous ways. The thesis does not suggest specific strategies to overcome the distinctions between urbanites and peasants, men and women, as this must be created in relation to specific social, cultural, and economic circumstances. Rather, it adopts a qualitative research method to provide a general analysis of how institutional changes and structural reforms in China reshaped social relations and gender relations in particular. By doing so, it is intended to facilitate the pursuit of a fairer and more tolerant society.

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