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Added: Lasandra Sabella - Date: Preferred Citation: Watson, Rubie S. Berkeley: University of California Press, c In her autobiography, published inHsieh Ping-ying described her parents as having traditional attitudes about marriage. They had betrothed her as an infant to the son of a prominent and well-to-do family.

Both her father and mother considered the fulfillment of this agreement essential to their family's honor. Her mother took charge of preparing the dowry, using money and materials she had been saving for more than ten years. She supervised workmen who spent several months constructing and lacquering forty pieces of furniture.

She had quilts and Married women chats Leiden nets made.

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She called in tailors to make clothes for each season. When Ping-ying urged her mother not to have too many dresses made, as styles might change, her mother replied:. To be a bride and not to have many dresses would be looked down upon by others. Many people have to sell their fields and their property to prepare a trousseau for their daughters. When your elder sister's husband's family married off their daughter they had thirty-two silk coverlets and twenty-eight woolen blankets, but I know that they had to sell their rice field to make a show.

Although I like to do my best for my daughters, I do not hold that people should really dispose of their property handed down to them by their ancestors in order to be luxurious in the wedding ceremony. If the trousseau is not too modest, that is sufficient. Hsieh Ping-ying, Autobiography of a Chinese Girltrans. Tsui Chi [; reprint, London: Pandora, ], p. But the wedding itself never took place because, after three attempts, Ping-ying ran away from her parents' house, where she had been confined under close watch. This volume is a collaborative effort to explore the social and historical bases of the marriage system that Hsieh Ping-ying's parents took for granted.

What logic led to betrothals in infancy? What social or economic realities. What definitions of honor would lead parents to imprison a daughter rather than allow an engagement to be broken? We asked a group of historians and social scientists to look beyond the descent paradigm, which has been so dominant in our thinking about Chinese kinship, to discern ways marriage was implicated in the formation of group identities, political and economic networks, mobility strategies, and differentiation by gender.

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We started with the proposition that marriage is inevitably linked to social and economic hierarchies and that it both structures and is structured by relations of inequality. On the assumption that the links between marriage and other Married women chats Leiden formations may have varied by class and changed over time, we invited participants with expertise in a wide range of time periods and social groups.

As organizers of the conference and editors of the volume, our interests in marriage, kinship, and gender relations colored our original charge.

Original articles

We were fortunate to assemble a group of historians and social scientists who both complemented our interests and broadened our horizons. Taken as a whole the chapters in this volume show that marriage was deeply involved in the exercise and manipulation of political power, in the creation and distribution of prestige, and in the structuring of gender relations.

Despite our emphasis on discerning and analyzing change, we found continuities across time striking: from the classical period to the Revolution of there were similarities in exogamy rules, wedding rituals, and the treatment of women. Yet the authors also present evidence of change in monogamy, divorce, dowry, and symbolic uses of marriage that they relate to alterations in the composition of the elite and the commercialization of the economy.

Article contents

Those familiar with marriage systems elsewhere in Asia and Europe will recognize similarities in the ways honor and property came to be tied to marriage in China. Yet dowry in China, we argue, also had some unique characteristics. Confucian ideology—with its stress on patriliny over matrilateral and affinal ties—combined with legal restrictions on women's claims to property created a dowry complex distinct from the ones found in Europe and India.

Mellon Foundation. We are indebted to them for their support. The general arguments presented in the Introduction and Afterword, as well as. We are also grateful to Stevan Harrell, who took time from a busy schedule to read the final manuscript with care and provide us with constructive criticism. We are pleased to acknowledge this help. Inequalities of many sorts characterized Chinese society. During the imperial period, the emperor outranked all of his subjects. Members of the imperial family and clan possessed titles, rank, privileges, and stipends that distinguished them from the rest of society.

Government officials were set above commoners by their access to wealth and power and enormous social prestige. Crosscutting these political inequalities were social, economic, and geographic ones. Merchants and large landowners could dominate their communities through their control of resources; educated families of established reputations could expect deference based on their culture, history, manners, and style; residents of cities in economically developed areas had social, economic, and even political advantages over rural residents in the hinterlands.

And throughout society, from the imperial court to the peasant household, men outranked women. In the twentieth century traditional political inequalities lost their legal force, and after most of the old sources of economic inequality, especially the private ownership of land, were eliminated. In addition, the state promoted greater legal equality of men and women in matters of marriage and property ownership. Yet in the second half of the twentieth century new sources of inequality emerged, such as class labels, party membership, and city residence.

The authors of this book examine the relation between marriage and these social, political, and economic inequalities. Inequality has not been a neglected topic in Chinese studies. The imperial institution, the civil service recruitment system, the distribution of landholding, and the ideology of class and gender differentiation have all been studied in detail. Little research has been devoted, however, to the mechanisms or processes through which inequalities were reproduced or transformed over time.

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Marriage also is not a neglected topic. Anthropological and sociological studies of China generally. Wolf and HuangWatsonCroll Yet little attention has been given to the ways marriage mediated inequality or inequalities structured marriage.

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In this volume we investigate these processes and mechanisms by focusing on how marriage relates to three forms of inequality: the political power of rulers; the social and economic differences among families; and the inequalities between men and women and among women. Because our goal is to discover the broad outlines of these processes, we examine marriage in a wide range of social settings from very early to very recent times. Before introducing the chapters in this volume, we must place our discussion in a broad theoretical and comparative framework.

Whenever a marriage takes place, the standing of every party is somewhat different from what it had been. Almost invariably at least one person, the husband or wife, changes residence. In many cases control over wealth changes hands. In China, where most of the family estate was transmitted to patrilineal descendants, it was fairly common for some property to be diverted to daughters as dowries. Marriages regularly allocate privileges, claims, and obligations, usually in different ways for men and women. In the Chinese case, in a patrilocal marriage the husband gained sexual access to his wife and his patriline gained claims to her labor and the children she would bear.

But the wife also gained privileges through marriage, such as the claim to maintenance on her husband's estate and a place of honor in ancestral rites. Marriages everywhere confer honor: individual men and women become recognized adults by marrying; at the same time families gain in standing by marrying their children respectably. In most societies weddings are great occasions for displaying status; sometimes more is spent on the ritual festivities than on the durable items that end up in the dowry as families perform the rites elaborately to confirm or enhance their status.

Viewed from the perspective of the individual family, every marriage provides a chance to gain or lose economically or socially. Marriages are thus occasions for thinking tactically, for balancing many considerations. A family head need not make similar matches for each daughter; in one case he may seek useful affines, in another emphasize the financial considerations, in a third think first of his daughter's welfare. Marriage choices can be compared to market choices, with the various decision makers weighing an assortment of factors, including the age and attractiveness of their children, the supply of potential spouses, other demands on their resources, and so on.

In the Chinese context the flexibility of marriage decisions stands in contrast to. Because property had to be divided among all sons, parents had little leeway to manipulate in favor of one heir or another. Viewed from the larger society, however, the range of possibilities open for each match fades. Certain types of marriage systems structure the ways wealth, power, and status are distributed in the society from one family to another and from one generation to another and the ways rights, privileges, and honor are ased differentially to men and women.

Jack Goody has developed the most influential model of the structural consequences of systems of marriage exchange. In "Bridewealth and Dowry in Africa and Eurasia" Goody distinguishes between those societies that transmit property through daughters via dowry or inheritance including to some degree most of the state-based societies of Eurasia and those that do not notably the bridewealth societies of Africa.

He argues that societies with "diverging devolution" the same types of property passing through both men and women whether through inheritance or dowry are marked by monogamy, family control of daughters' marriages, emphasis on virginity, strong ties between affines, greater Married women chats Leiden distinctions, and stronger women's property rights a set of characteristics I shall refer to here as the "dowry complex".

Goody shows many logical links between these characteristics. Where families send their daughters with dowries, Goody explains, they do not want misalliances and cannot risk letting daughters choose on the basis of attraction. When marriages require matching property, property stays disproportionately in the upper classes, and class inequalities are thereby strengthened.

Families providing portions for a daughter want some guarantee that the property will be used to her benefit, especially if she is widowed In some societies like China daughters did not regularly receive family property but could be residual heirs, that is, allowed to transmit the family property through uxorilocal marriages when there were no sons; these, too, Goody classes as societies practicing diverging devolution a In Production and Reproduction b Goody adds a developmental dimension to this model, linking diverging devolution to the introduction of the animal-drawn plow and the greater economic surplus it allowed.

Diverging devolution is thus also related to greater social and economic differentiation and the development of states. In this book he also analyzes concubinage and the inequality in the household created by an unbalanced marriage exchange i.

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In The Development of Family and Marriage in Europe Goody brings these conceptions to bear on the complex historical changes in Western history from the Roman Empire to early modern times, showing that marriage forms do not flow automatically from economic structures but are complexly tied to dominant institutions and ideologies. Goody's analyses, taken together, provide a new way to think about the linkage of gender and. Goody's studies do not show women relegated to a domestic sphere defined by the biology of motherhood, while men operate in a public sphere shaped by the political economy and the forces of history.

To the contrary, he describes a domestic domain shaped by productive processes and the transmission of property see Collier and Yanagisako Goody's work on marriage has been utilized by several China scholars Parish and Whyte ; Ebrey; Watson ; Holmgren His model provides an alternative to full reliance on the lineage model of Chinese kinship, which makes patrilineal kinship so central that transmission of property through women in uxorilocal marriage or via dowries appears to be a peripheral embellishment of little structural importance cf.

Freedman ; Baker Yet there are obstacles to wholesale acceptance of Goody's model: the relative weakness of women's legal claims to property in China; the fact that many, maybe even a majority, of marriages did not involve ificant transfers from the bride's side; and the difficulty in characterizing China as either a dowry or a bridewealth society as both coexisted e. Moreover, it is not clear that a model deed to explain the broadest differences between dissimilar societies can also provide insight into the narrower differences that China scholars seek to understand, such as why Married women chats Leiden was more prominent in India than in China, or why dowries were more substantial in some parts of China than in others.

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In some areas of north and central China, peasants are reported to have spent considerable sums on dowries Fei ; Yang, ; Gamble ; Cohen In the south, especially in areas with dominant lineages, dowries among the poor were often modest affairs, costing the woman's family ificantly less than the amount they received in betrothal girls see Kulp ; Watson Do differences in kinship organization or agricultural methods explain these differences? Did women in areas with large dowries have higher status than those in areas without them?

Goody's theories do not place much weight on ritual and the display of status through marriage and have been criticized as being overly "econo-centric" see Comaroff ; Harrell and Dickey Other anthropologists have delved more deeply into the symbolic dimensions of marriage exchanges and the ways they establish and restructure the relations of all the parties concerned wife-givers and wife-takers, but also husbands and wives, or husbands' families and daughters-in-law. The benefits that flow from a marriage are not all tangible or clearly specified.

In the classic study of gift giving, the French sociologist Marcel Mauss argues that gifts create an imbalance between the giver and the receiver. The recipient is indebted to the giver until the gift is repaid, at which time the debt is canceled or, if the return gift exceeds the initial gift, a new state of imbalance is established Basing their analyses on Mauss's work, many anthropologists argue. Bourdieu, for instance, writes that marriage was "one of the mainstays of both the dynamic and the static elements of the entire social system" to the extent that it afforded the families he studied "one of the most important opportunities for monetary and also symbolic exchanges that asserted the family's position in the social hierarchy and thereby confirmed that hierarchy itself" Marriage, in effect, becomes part of the system of social reproduction in which status, rank, and class differences are passed on to the next generation.

Marriage exchange, after all, involves not only the giving and receiving of land, money, and jewelry but also the offering of words, bows, and other "gifts" of respect. Sometimes the potential for expression of status is not equal in all forms of marriage. In China it is generally thought that only "major" marriages patrilocal marriages of mature brides could be used to full advantage in the display and celebration of high status cf.

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