From ritual lament to public discourse : some observations on the changing perception of fate among Hong Kong Chinese women

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From ritual lament to public discourse : some observations on the changing perception of fate among Hong Kong Chinese women

 

Author: Ho, Yuk-ying
Title: From ritual lament to public discourse : some observations on the changing perception of fate among Hong Kong Chinese women
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2002
Subject: Women -- China -- Hong Kong
Fate and fatalism
Rites and ceremonies -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: v, 280 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1657693
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2484
Abstract: This is an empirical research into the changing perception of fate among Hong Kong Chinese women from the 1960s to the 1990s, with particular attention to the ways women express themselves. The distinctive features of this research are twofold. First, it attempts to integrate both Chinese and western concepts into a throretical framework for empirical investigation, using concepts such as "fate" understood in the Chinese cultural context and "communicative action" borrowed from Jurgen Habermas's critical theory. Second, it employs research data of different kinds such as ritual laments, life stories and media texts and images. The variety of data enables the author to offer an interesting and vivid description of the lives of Hong Kong Chinese women. This research shows how the method of thick description, besides performing the task of presenting and analyzing data, can itself be constituted as an arguement for certain purposes. As for the main findings, this research demonstrates some possible links between women's fate and the articulation of their experience. By comparing different forms of women's expression at different historical stages, it shows that, by the end of the twentieth-century, Hong Kong Chinese women have evolved a modern rational outlook on life and the world. The traditional Chinese worldview is losing its viability. The thesis consists of six chapters. Chapter one reviews some features of local women's studies and explains the objectives of this research against this background. Chapter two is a theoretical framework constructed on the basis of Francis Hsu's father-son dyad thesis and Habermas's theory of communicative action. Chapters three to five are concerned with data presentation and analysis. Chapter three describes how village bride daughters lamented their fate in their wedding. Marriage lament was a ritual practiced in rural Hong Kong for over three centuries and faded out in the late 1960s. Chapter four tells the stories of six women of two generations. The first are women now in their old age and the other three are now middle aged. The six stories together tell how Chinese women living in the post-war Hong Kong, through the late 1970s and then right up to the 1990s led a way of life that perfectly matches the ideal Chinese womanhood of three obediences. Chapter five describes how a group of village women, together with some feminists, living in 1990's Hong Kong were engaged in public discourse on a law amendment. These women demonstrated the ability to use arguements to explain their position. Chapter six is concluding remarks, presenting some of my reflections on the connection between changing women's fate and the development of their communicative ability.

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