Women and the Family in Chinese History

By Patricia Buckley Ebrey | Go to book overview

Introduction

Westerners have long been fascinated by the Chinese family and Chinese women, though the approaches they have brought to these topics have naturally changed over time. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, missionaries emphasized the features of the Chinese family that stood in contrast to Western practices, such as ancestor worship, legally recognized concubinage, and large multigenerational families with several married brothers living together. Many were reformers at heart and took up the cause of the subjection of women. They wrote with feeling of the plight of girls who might be killed at birth by parents who did not need another daughter, who could be sold at 5 or 6 as indentured servants, whose feet were bound so small that they could hardly walk, who were denied education, who had to marry whomever their fathers chose, who had few legal rights to property, who could be divorced easily and denied custody of their children, and who might be pressured not to remarry after their husbands' deaths.

By the mid-twentieth century social scientists occupied a similar position of authority in writing about Chinese women and the family for Western audiences. They not surprisingly framed their work in very different ways, trying to avoid both ethnocentrism and condescension. They placed China in a comparative framework that classified family systems according to their method of reckoning descent, their forms of marriage, their ways of transmitting property, and the like, leading to our common understandings of the Chinese family as patrilineal, patrilocal, and patriarchal. Long-term change was not a part of this analysis, and historians impressed by the anthropological model usually discussed the Chinese family as part of the background to Chinese history, much like its geography or language, rather than treating its development as integral to their main historical narrative. Anthropologists themselves commonly treated the household as relatively well understood and devoted much of their fieldwork to analyses of kinship organization beyond the household. One reason for this was that the Chinese lineage corresponded in interesting ways to the segmentary lineages found in Africa, and by studying Chinese lineages they could contribute to anthropological debates on lineage structure. Women were rarely key players in

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Women and the Family in Chinese History
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 294

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.