"Full-time wife" and the change of gender order in the Chinese City

Ying Fang, Alan Walker
2015 The Journal of Chinese Sociology  
Work and family are the most critical of the contested terrains that determine the status of women in the gender order, the differing pattern of inequality between men and women. "Full-time wife" is a relatively new label in China, emerging only in the late twentieth century. It corresponds to the term "housewife" used in the 1950s and 1960s. Based on 59 in-depth interviews carried out between 2006 and 2007 in Guangzhou City, this article focuses on "full-time wives" and the dilemma they face
more » ... the conflict between family and work, an issue that is essential to an understanding of changing gender relations in China. The paper argues that a combination of the traditional Chinese gender order, improving wages of the family under the "socialist" market economy, and the rolling back of state protection was a key reason for the emergence of the full-time wife phenomenon. The analysis of the position of the full-time wife demonstrates how rolling back state protection affected women and specifically how it undermined the admittedly inconsistent advances in gender equality made in the previous era. For example, women now experience many new kinds of subordination, both in the labor market and the family. China's market economy requires social policies that aim to improve the work-family balance in order to prevent or mitigate the further development of the market-constructed gender order.
doi:10.1186/s40711-015-0006-x fatcat:fbni7bhco5af5dkeggcopw4zyi