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The marriage law and family change in China with special reference to Kwangtung Province 1950-1953 Ng, Roxana

Abstract

This thesis is concerned with discovering some changes in the Chinese family after 1949. Since the Marriage Law, promulgated on May 1, 1950, is the most important piece of legislation by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regarding marriage and family reforms, this study thus focuses on the Marriage Law and the subsequent campaigns for its implementation. The time period investigated is from 1950 to 1953, when the Marriage Law campaigns were launched on a national scale. In order to find out how the Law was enforced on the local level, the province of Kwangtung is chosen as a case study. The thesis begins with a discussion of the historical situations of the Chinese family and its changes before Liberation. It then examines the scope and purpose of the Marriage Law. The various implementation campaigns, first on the national level, and then in Kwangtung, are described respectively. Lastly, the study attempts to assess the impact of Marriage Law implementation movements and to speculate on some changes which have occurred in the contemporary Chinese family by using recent research and tourists' accounts on China. This study is basically a historical survey making use of: (a) official documents on the Marriage Law implementation, such as directives, propaganda handbooks, and so on; (b) reports and readers' opinions published in Chinese newspapers; and (c) magazines and periodicals from China. Secondary sources include visitors' reports on China, field-work and researches done both in China and in Hong Kong. It is often argued that the Chinese leadership aims at the abolition of the family institution. The present investigation reveals that, while the Chinese government indeed wants to disgard some elements in the traditional family system, the family itself is retained as the basic unit of production. In fact, the Marriage Law is the main "raison d'etre" for the continuing existence of the family. The strengths of family organization are utilized by the Communist leadership to promote the development of a socialist state in China.

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