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112 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 cious for the people ofmainland China, Taiwan, and even Hong Kong and Macau. Liu Bolong University ofMacau Liu Bolong is an assistantprofessor ofpolitical science specializing in the study of China's International Relations. Deborah Davis and Stevan Harrell, editors. Chinese Families in the PostMao Era. Berkeley: University ofCalifornia Press, 1993. xiii, 370 pp. Hardcover $55.00, isbn 0-520-07797-0. Paperback $17.00, isbn 0-520-08222-2. This is a collection ofeleven papers that were originally presented at a conference on "Family Strategies in Post-Mao China," held at Rocho Harbor, Washington, 12-17 June 1990, and sponsored by the Joint Committee on Chinese Studies ofthe American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. The volume is divided into four parts: (1) Household Structure, (2) Marriage, (3) Child Bearing, and (4) Hardship and Dependencies. The opening introductory chapter written by the two coeditors is an excellent overview of the articles included in the volume. Davis and Harrell not only give readers a concise summary of the major findings in each article in the volume; they also discuss the difficulties in conducting field research in the People's Republic ofChina. The main question asked by the volume contributors is whether the contradictory initiatives during the post-Mao period had any consequence for Chinese families in the 1980s. A cluster ofissues are examined that include household composition, marriage arrangements, fertility decisions, care for kin, and public and private responsibilities for family welfare. Each chapter represents an attempt by a contributing author to address these issues. With the broad range oftopics and wide geographical area covered, the volume does give us a relatively thorough picture of the institutions of marriage and the family in China during the open-door era ofDeng Xiaoping. Jonathan Unger's essay on Chinese surveys of urban families in the eighties and Deborah Davis' y niversity QWn mtervjew survey on urban women in Shanghai are two excellent analyses that are sound in both theory and methodology. The three interesting articles on marriage and family in southern China, a region that has experienced rapid socioeconomic transformation under Deng, writofHawai 'i Press Reviews 113 ten, respectively, by Stevan Harrell, Graham E. Johnson, and Helen F. Siu, show us the changes that have occurred in rural areas under the impact ofindustrialization and contact with things foreign. Mark Selden's article deals with the consequences ofthe newly installed household contract system and the expanded semi-open market and mobility on the family and individual marital strategies in rural northern China. He found a significant number ofjoint and stem families engaging in entrepreneurial activity. The two articles by Susan Greenhalgh and Hill Gates, respectively, are descriptive and make use ofsecondary analysis. Analyzing from the perspectives of regional power structure and state control, they found that state control over familyplanning is diminishing, while regional and local party cadres seem to be gaining more influence in decision making in the area ofreproductive activity. Since this is a collection ofpapers written by authors from different disciplines with different theoretical orientations and methodological training, unavoidably there are inconsistencies in their statements and the use ofdata throughout the entire volume. Although most ofthe papers are quantitative in analysis and presentation, there are some that consist only ofqualitative description . Many ofthe authors also tend to depend in their analysis mostly on survey results collected by Chinese investigators. Unfortunately, the question ofreliability in these surveys is never addressed. Although there are a few inconsistent and sometimes contradictory statements presented by different authors in different chapters, this collection deserves to be read by anyone who is interested in social change in contemporary China, especially in the institutions ofmarriage and family. The questions raised by the authors are legitimate, most oftheir analyses are objective and value-neutral, and their research findings will add to our understanding ofmarriage and family in contemporary China. Nevertheless, readers ought not to take as static the marriage and family that are depicted in the current volume. China is changing rapidly on a daily basis, and so are marriage and family practices. It is quite conceivable that marriage and family in China in the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 112-113
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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