Essay Example on The institution of the family within China








The institution of the family within China is one that has undergone a wealth of change throughout time however especially during the past 100 years In this essay I will be examining how the dynamics of the Chinese family have been altered due to several impacts beginning with the family at the founding of the PRC in 1949 and concluding with the modern day contemporary Chinese family However before looking for changes it's important to take a quick look at the traditional Chinese family so that we can see how the family and their values alter The family can be considered as the building block of Chinese society Hu Scott 2014 and a large part of its importance comes down to the fact that families are what create the next generations of workers Freedman 1962 and worshippers The traditional Chinese family was based off a quite rigid set of values with the ideal family being patriarchal men were the more important and powerful members patrilineal the family s lineage would be traced through only the male members and virilocal it was expected that the bride would live with the groom and his family It becomes clear after reading this that women in traditional

Chinese families were often some of the weakest and most oppressed members Filial Piety was another key concept in feudal Chinese families a value which emphasised respect and certain obligations between parents and children Hu Scott 2014 In the year 1949 the CCP Chinese Communist Party came to power to give some brief context on the views of the Chinese Communist Party towards the traditional Chinese family it's important to remember that in the the 1930's and 1940's when they were gaining power that the Party were trying to condemn the notion of the feudal and patriarchal family Wolf 1984 This condemning formed part of a huge reform of the concept of the family which began to give equal rights to men and women within marriages and family life Wong 1982 However as China became the PRC the complicated relationship between the CCP and the Chinese family as an institution became clearer and clearer The failure of Mao s destruction of the family as a patriarchal institute led the CCP to do the opposite to use the law another institution which had also been condemned Wong 1982 to protect and modernise the family

This began with the Marriage Law of 1950 which put forward a set of radical changes to how marriages and divorces functioned making marriage a free consensual contract between individuals Freedman 1962 and assuring that marriage would more of an equal affair to women so as to abolish the supremacy of man over woman Wolf 1984 The Marriage Law meant that women and men have almost completely equal rights in matters of property residence choice of work and care of children Freedman 1962 and 3 of its 8 chapters were dedicated towards making divorce a more just system allowing for women to initiate divorce and introducing mediation as a method of judging the validity of divorce cases Wong 1982 However the Marriage Law was received differently throughout China the urban areas were more liberal and accepting of these changes whilst the rural areas did their best to maintain their traditional patriarchal beliefs concerning marriage and the family Wolf 1984 To combat this the CCP put forward a countrywide awareness campaign concerning the Marriage Law Wong 1982 which was quite successful This law completely altered the dynamic in marriages and families throughout China giving women more equal opportunities and also beginning the shift away from the traditional view of families It also meant that the country saw a large increase in divorce rates Wong 1982 now that women were actively able to initiate divorce After the Marriage Law was introduced in 1950 the divorce rate in

Beijing increased by a factor of 1 3 over 1949 By 1953 the divorce rate was 12 times greater than it was in 1949 Wong 1982 Not only did divorce rates increase but also the amount of dual earning families increased Hu Scott 2014 due to the improvement in work opportunities for women from 1949 to 1952 women's participation in paid labour went from almost nil before 1949 to 74 Nan Xue 2002 The fact that the CCP made such a brash move by introducing a law that was so controversial shows their dedication to gender equality during the 1930s and 1940s they had recognised the political potential that women had as an oppressed social group and thus decided to dedicate their efforts towards liberating women from an archaic feudal system and this Marriage Law was a perfect example of this liberation Wong 1982 More progress was made towards modernising the family during Great Leap Forward Wong 1982 Hu Scott 2014 The Great Leap Forward was a bold attempt by China to skyrocket their industries with hopes of achieving superior production to that of Great Britain Peng 1987 During this time great emphasis was placed on furthering the progress that had been made on marriage reform to create a more familial view of the household Wong 1982 This emphasis amongst other impacts that we will discuss has helped to move away from the function based view of the family that has existed for countless years in China

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