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«Juanwen Yuan Thesis committee Thesis supervisor Prof. dr. A. Niehof Professor of Sociology of Consumers and Households Wageningen University Thesis ...»

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The area for afforestation is approximately 0.28 billion mu (WRDPO, 2005). From 2001 onwards, the government began to give more support to rural students in primary and secondary schools; in 2007, it exempted these students from tuition fees and textbook fees.

From 2003 onwards, the central government started the Neo-rural Medical System, in which 72.6 percent of the villagers participated in 2004. The government gives subsidy for participation. The participants pay 40 yuan a year and get partial reimbursement of the costs of medical consults and medicines. The villagers had no medical support from the government from 1978 to 2003, although disease usually threw a rural better-off household back into poverty (WRDPO, 2005). In 2003, the government also promoted training for rural migrants and set up a special project – the Sunshine Training Project – to assist rural people to acquire some skills and knowledge before their migration. In 2004, there were 2.5 million trainees (SPONRMT, 2004). The results are not very good, either because much of the training is not really user-oriented, or because the training time is too short.

From 2004, The Chinese government subsidized grain farming (Heerink et al., 2006; Gale et al., 2005), and allocated 12 billion and 15.6 billion yuan as subsidy to the grain-cultivating farming households in 2006 and 2007 respectively, to stimulate grain production and increase farming households’ incomes (WRDPO, 2005).

The Document 1 of 2010 was issued in Jan. 2010 when the researcher was finalizing the 7 dissertation. This document is still focusing on agriculture and rural development. Small city and township development are given special attention in this document.

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2.7 Family and household 2.7.1 The Chinese family and household Sigley (2001) defines the Chinese family as at least having two members, related by blood and economic interdependence. Christiansen (1990) distinguishes four types of family: the one-couple family, the nuclear family, the joint family, and the extended family. Christiansen (1990:112) cites Fei (1982:35): “The most important classification of family structure in China used is based on blood relationship between family members: nuclear family (hexin jiating), joint family (lianhe jiating) and extended family (kuoda liaode jiating). The nuclear family consists of a husband, a wife and their unmarried children. The joint family consists of married children who live together with the parents, while the extended family signifies nuclear families plus other members who are unable to live alone, usually a widow or widower living with children after a spouse has died but sometimes more distant relatives or even unrelated persons”. At the same time, Christiansen (1990) says that Fei (1982: 35) adds one type, namely the incomplete nuclear family, “in which one of the spouses has died or is otherwise absent, or in which unmarried orphans live together”.

The crucial characteristic of a household is the fact that it shares a common budget and the members cook and eat together (Potter and Potter, 1990). This makes married children who already formally cook and eat separately kin and not

household members. Wang (2003b) has categorized households into five types:

complex households – siblings’ families living together, the parent(s) staying with two married children’s families; stem households – parent(s) staying with one married child’s family; nuclear households – parent(s) with child(ren); incomplete households – unmarried siblings staying together because the parents passed away; and single person households.

The extended family can be seen as a place of security and wealth

accumulation. Wolf (1966: 66-67) describes the Chinese extended family as follows:

“While some members retain their hold on land, and keep the property together under one administration, others leave – seasonally or periodically – to add to its liquid capital holdings through the injection of outside funds. Such a unit also has great resistive capacity in periods of decline or economic difficulty […] the extended family can thus function as a device for social security far more flexibly than the smaller conjugal or nuclear family8, which is weak because its viability depends upon the productive abilities of one member of each sex.” Yet, in extended families, there is also more potential for conflict. Conflicts may arise between men and women, son and father, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law (Wolf, 1966). Wolf (1966) says that women are often regarded as outsiders. Sons, on the other hand, fight a silent struggle against their fathers, when the fathers cling to traditional ways while the sons look for new techniques and customs.

The traditional Chinese family has a patrilineal kinship system and a patrilocal residence pattern (Christiansen, 1990). The men are almost automatically household heads and inherit the property. The ideology in the family is that the The conjugal or nuclear family is the family that consists of a married man and woman 8 with their offspring.

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son embodies the family wealth and that the daughter is destined for others.

Christiansen (1990) notes a relationship between family structure and the economic and social opportunities of families. Joint families may live together but have “separate stoves” (fenzao) and cook separately, which means they are separate households.





The words household and family are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. For China, Sigley (2001) points at the difference between hu (household) and jiating (family). Christiansen (1990) uses household (hukou) as the official registration, which does not necessarily imply that the members have a blood relationship, and family (jiating) as the blood relationship. Members of households may be living together or apart, either on a temporary basis or permanently. Migration of individual household members to a new place of residence without a change of their hukou registration implies that the official and more common conceptual notions of household diverge. Christiansen (1990:111) says that the terms “‘household’ and ‘family’ indicate different perspectives of the same phenomenon. ‘Household’ signifies a classification imposed by the outside world: whatever it is the government official in charge of the household registers, or the sociologist trying to conceptualize a social phenomenon sees. ‘Family’ signifies a special bond and blood relationship between people living together, in this sense it is seen from ‘within’.” Chen (1996) describes the farming household as a contract unit for the allotment of land, in which a group of related people, usually a nuclear family, individually or jointly provide management, labour, capital, and any other necessary inputs for the production of crops and livestock, and which consumes at least part of the farm’s produce and manages the agricultural production and consumption. She also says that farming household decision-making is influenced by the availability of resources. Christiansen (1990) observes that the introduction of the HRS gives more importance to property division and changes intergenerational conflict.

According to Christiansen (1990), the most palpable manifestation of rural-urban separation is the hukou registration system. The hukou system was set up in 1955 with the objective to monitor population migration. The hukoubu – a household registration book -, indicates clearly the ‘agricultural’ or ‘urban’ residence. Usually, each household has its own hukoubu that is registered at the local security station, which keeps the household registration list. The ‘urban’ residents have received a number of privileges from the government, such as housing and health care, while the rural ones have none. It is difficult for the Chinese farming households to change from a rural to an urban residence status. If the rural people work in the urban areas, they have to apply for a temporary residence permit, but they are not treated in the same way as the urban people in terms of housing, education, health, et cetera. Rural-urban migration is not easy.

The hukou system is an important constraint for rural people to migrate to the urban areas to work. The rural migrants cannot get the same privileges. Even if they have worked and lived in the urban areas for a long time, their rural hukou cannot be changed to an urban hukou. They are regarded as outsiders, even when they contribute significantly to urban development. Since 2007, however, some

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provinces have begun to abandon the difference between the rural and the urban hukou, giving all the residents the same type of hukou9.

2.7.2 Kinship The Chinese household is generally based on patrilineal kinship and patrilocal residence. The wife moves to her husband’s village to live there after marriage and keeps a strong relationship with her husband’s relatives. But Judd (1989) indicates that matrilineal kinship – niangjia - is also important. She found that some married women reside with their natal families, or that young married women return daily to their natal families when they live close to their natal village and in cases of intra-village marriage. These married women could take on more responsibilities by taking care of their own parents. According to her, women should not be seen as just victims of patriarchy but as agents in the everyday practice of kinship.

Mallee (1997) mentions the role of kinship in reducing risks associated with migration, through the provision of information, jobs, and assistance with housing. Christiansen (1990) found that taking care of the elderly is mainly done within the household or by relatives in rural areas, a phenomenon which forces both intergenerational cohesion and conflicts upon the households. It is usually the duty of the son’s family to take care of the elderly. Vermeer (2006) points to the importance of grandparents in childcare and household chores while the parents are at work.

2.7.3 Headship The farming household head is usually male, but the number of de facto female household heads is increasing. Cohen (1992) says that the terms of de jure head and de facto head could be translated as “family head” and “family manager”, respectively. “The family head, as senior male, represents the family to the outside world, the financial manager is generally in charge of family economic affairs and the re-distributor is custodian of the family purse in arrangements where income and expenditure are pooled. However, the ideal situation is where the same person

does both – where seniority and managerial competence coincide” (Cohen, 1992:

362-363). Cohen (1992) further notes that, in the past, the manager was mainly focusing on the division of labour in farming households, but that now, there are diversified sources of income for the manager to manage. IFAD (1995) indicates that the rural women, especially female household heads, adopt diversified strategies to survive and to deal with crisis.

Chen (1996) has categorized farming households in her research area in Sichuan province into five types, based on the management role of the household head: the male-managed farming household, the female-managed farming household, the mainly female-managed farming household, the mainly malemanaged farming household, and the jointly managed farming household. This means that the picture of household management in rural China is far more nuanced than simple classifications into male or female headship imply.

Document 1 of 2010 points out that the government will promote the rural villagers to 9 become urban citizens by allowing easy hukou change in small cities and townships.

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In rural China, most men are still the de jure household heads, but with increasing male out-migration, more women become de facto household heads in farming households. Some women remain the head even when the husband comes back, especially in the case of middle-aged wives and when the husband is welleducated. The middle-aged wives have developed strong networks and capacities when their husbands were absent and higher educated persons more easily accept the equality of sexes (Goldstein et al., 1997).

2.7.4 Division of labour The availability of labour and the division of labour relate to the household life course and the life course stage of the individuals involved. Chen (2004) conducted research on the relationships between generations of women in contemporary rural China and discussed the division of labour of two generations in extended households and stem households. She found that the daughter-in-law is focusing more on income-generating activities, such as agricultural production, while the mother-in-law does household chores, like taking care of the children. The older generation is losing control and power. Judd (1990) has similar findings, mentioning that the younger generation has greater autonomy in making decisions about their work preference than they had in the past.

2.8 Gender issues in China Chinese society has always been a patriarchal society where women are expected to follow men’s decisions. Fan (2003: 28) states that “the Confucian prescriptions of social positions popularize the notion that women’s place is inside the family whereas men are responsible for the outside including the earnings to support the family.” At the same time, it is also important to examine the relationships of daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law to analyze the patriarchal society. As Chen (2004) observed, in this way we gain more understanding of the gender roles, because these relationships are shaped by gender roles. Many issues are implied by the patriarchal character of Chinese society.

2.8.1 Gender and land issues in China Before the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, land was patrilineally inherited in traditional Chinese society. During the collective era, there was no private landownership. After that, the HRS offered equal opportunities for men and women to get land. According to IFAD (1995: 56), “it was with the institution of the HRS in the early 1980s that women began to become independent lease holders.” Women have equal rights to land according to the law, but in practice, both title and control are often in de hands of men.



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