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SOAS China Institute

Patriarchy Unbound: Male Rural-to-Urban Migrants Negotiating Marital Power in China

Professor Susanne Y P Choi (Hong Kong Chinese University)

Date: 12 May 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 12 May 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College BuildingsRoom: G50

Type of Event: Seminar

Series: SOAS China Institute Monday Forums


Susanne Choi Yuk Ping (D.Phil. in Sociology, Nuffield College, University of Oxford), is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-director of the Gender Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  She is a Fulbright Scholar for 2013-2014. Her research interests include gender, family, health, migration, and transitional justice.  Her current projects examine the impacts of migration on family life in Chinese societies.  Some of her works were published in American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Marriage and Family, International Migration Review, The China Quarterly, Sociology of Health and Illness, and Social Science and Medicine.


Does migration change the Chinese patriarchy?  It was estimated that there were 220 million rural to urban migrants in China in 2010, with male migrants slightly outnumbering their female counterparts.  Rural to urban migration impacts men’s  relationship with their spouse through their own exposure to social inequalities/hegemonic masculinity in cities and their wives’ newly found economic independence in urban China.  Past studies on migration in China have mostly focused on its economic and political effects, neglecting its consequences for family life and gender relationships.  Gender studies mostly looked at the experiences of women, overlooking men’s specific situations and subjectivity.  To fill these gaps, this paper uses ethnographic and in-depth interview data with over one hundred migrant men to examine how male migrant workers respond to, and rationalize changes in, marital power, which resulted from their and their spouse’s rural to urban migration. By exploring the intersection between migration, gender relationship and family from the men’s perspective, we draw attention to how migrant men as gendered actors participate in the creation, reproduction and changes of the gender and family systems in contemporary China.

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

Contact email: sci@soas.ac.uk

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