Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration, and Social Change

By Huang, Xin | Journal of East Asian Studies, September-December 2008 | Go to article overview

Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration, and Social Change


Huang, Xin, Journal of East Asian Studies


Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration, and Social Change. By Tamara Jacka. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2006. 329 pp. $29.95 (paper).

Tamara Jacka's book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of rural women's migration experience in China. It attends to the voice of migrant women and brings "the margins to the centre" by offeting rich documentation of women's accounts of their experiences (p. 16). By comparing and analyzing the discursive construction of migrant experiences and subjects in dominant discourses of state officials and urban elites, as well as migrant women's narratives, this book illuminates the dynamic interaction between social discourses and personal identities and provides insight into migrant women's struggles over narratives and meaning-making through their negotiation with the dominant discourses.

This book is based primarily on the author's field research in 1999-2002 in China and includes interviews and informal conversations, participant observations, and focus groups, as well as questionnaire surveys with migrant women in Beijing. The ethnographic research is supplemented by text analysis of articles written by scholars and journalists about rural migrant women and by stories written by migrant women themselves.

Jacka traces the genealogy of the discourses of rural/urban difference and outsider/local status and gender and argues that the "denial of coevalness" between city and country in Chinese intellectual discourses casts the rural as "traditional" and "backward" and the urban as both the site and the engine of the nation's modern future. These discourses facilitated the processes of differentiation and constricting inequalities and justified the subordination of rural migrants in contemporary China. Jacka investigates the regulatory regime, including the household registration system and accompanying discriminatory restrictions that control migrants' movement, employment, fertility, education, and housing, as well as the discrimination, exploitation, and marginalization migrant women experience. Jacka finds that migrant women's narratives about places often reflect and reinforce dominant discourses. The countryside is represented as the place that belongs to the past, of stasis and confinement, associated with childhood, old age, and retreat. The city, on the other hand, is represented as the place of the future and modernity, of youth and desire, and of development.

Jacka gives a balanced account of the construction of a vulnerable young dagongmei (working sister) subject position by the Rural Women and Working Sister journals and through the activities of the Migrant Women's Club in Beijing. While recognizing their contributions in furthering the interests of rural migrant women, Jacka also points out that such construction reproduced dominant discourses and did not challenge the fundamental underpinnings of gender and rural/urban hierarchies and inequalities.

Some of Jacka's important findings are in contrast to much existing literature on labor migration in Asia. For instance, contrary to the household strategy and filial daughter models, many young unmarried women seem to fit the rebellious daughter model at first glance. Their migration is driven by a desire for education and a wish to avoid or postpone marriage and the traditional role of "virtuous wife and good mother." However, meeting filial obligations continues to be important for them. By preserving good relations with their rural families, they cultivate an identity that is both independent and modern, and moral and caring. Another example is that married women migrants are not merely passive dependents, as the associational model suggests. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

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 article

This article 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 article

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

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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 article

Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration, and Social Change
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

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

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.
    Sign up now 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.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.