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Croll, Elisabeth J. (1978) The negotiation of marriage in the People's Republic of China. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis, based on documentary sources and a brief period of intensive interviewing in the People's Republic of China, is a study of the new marriage patterns as they have evolved in contemporary China and an analysis of the specific economic and ideological variables working for and against their social change. It examines the processes of change within the institution of marriage itself, in terms of the procedures of negotiation, the criteria governing choice of spouse, the age of marriage and its ritual and ceremonial forms. It argues that the substitution of the ideology of arranged marriage by that of free-choice marriage has not only brought the younger and older generations into direct conflict, but has brought the resources and sanctions of kin and neighbourhood groups into competition with those at the disposal of the State and new political associations. The variety of marriage patterns identified in this thesis derive from patterns of social behaviour evolved in the last two decades to mediate this competition between the generations and between primary and political groups for control of the marriage negotiations. The evidence suggests that these conflicts have been resolved in favour of the older generation and primary groups in rural areas and the younger generation and political associations in the urban social field. This thesis argues that in comparison to urban China, the structure and function of rural households has encouraged the older generation to defy the new ideology and maintain their authority over the marriage procedures, and that the structure and function of primary groups in rural areas has enabled them to retain their controls. In correlating marriage patterns with both social and economic relations within the household and between the household and primary kin or neighbourhood groups, this thesis questions both the analogies drawn from the comparative social fields of Republican China and Taiwan, and many of the factors believed to underlie this process of social change that have been assumed to operate within the People's Republic of China itself.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58

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