The road to liberation : women's experience in a socialist village

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The road to liberation : women's experience in a socialist village


Author: Liu, Ya
Title: The road to liberation : women's experience in a socialist village
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: Womenz -- China -- Social conditions
Women and socialism -- China -- History -- 20th century.
Women's rights -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: 1 online resource (vi, 195 pages)
vi, 195 pages
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: After the Liberation of October, 1949, the ensuing Chinese Party-state of the People's Republic instigated a number of social and economic reforms which included an attempt to improve gender equality, and thereby promote the "ultimate" liberation of Chinese women. Decades later, however, scholars note the persistence of many patriarchal arrangements that continue to effectively subordinate women. Feminists have criticised the Party-state for failing to keep its promise to work towards the liberation of women. A number of scholarly attempts have been made to examine the factors which served to hold back the progress of the women's movement in Mao's China. This research is based on ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews recorded between 2011 and 2013 with both women and men in Yakou Village (Pearl River Delta). It is designed to place the rural women at the centre of study. By hearing their voices and documenting their stories, I hope to deepen our understanding of socialist China and the relations between women's liberation and rural socialism.
This research explores the complexity of women's liberation during the time of Mao's leadership. By foregrounding women's experiences and voices, this research proposes that the women's movement in China is an incomplete revolution. On the one hand, the transformation in the relations of production brought about a growing economic independence for women, significantly reducing their subordination to male authority, while on the other hand, changes in social reproduction were yet to take place. This resulted from two factors. First, the increase was crawling in the collective accumulation of wealth failed to provide sufficient material resources necessary to transform the social relations of production. The second was the gap between the economic structure of society and the social consciousness. Mao's apparently abrupt reordering of the social structure after the Liberation was unlikely to bring about new forms of social consciousness corresponding to it within a short period of time. Specifically, this research shows that the traditional household as an economic unit was left undisturbed by the reforms put in place by the Marriage Law in 1950s; after all the attempts to socialise domestic labour failed following the Great Leap Forward, marriage as an institution continued to play its role in social reproduction (transmitting values and norms from one generation to the next). The persistence of the traditional household as an economic unit was also caused by a gap between the newly established social structure and the not-yet developed social consciousness. It is difficult to change the mind set of an entire population within a short period of time. Even with the introduction of new elements, such as the public canteens, a new type of social and family life was still beyond the reach of the imagination of most. I argue that women's liberation will not be fully realized until the mode of production undergoes a complete transformationthat women's liberation in socialist China was held back due to an incomplete transformation in the social relations of reproduction.

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