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Marriage in Reformed China - Essay Example

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Marriage in China through the Decades of Reform Introduction Marriage law has always been the first to be enacted and promulgated after the great revolutions in history. This was the case with both the French and Russian Revolutions, and so it was in the case of the Communist Revolution in China…
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Marriage in Reformed China
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Download file to see previous pages In China, marriage reform began in 1949. Women’s rights were a personal interest of Mao Zedong's, and a common issue amongst intellectuals. Up until this time arranged or forced marriages, concubinage and the inability to get a divorce influenced the lives of many women. Chairman Mao enacted the New Marriage Law of 1950 which marked a radical change from existing patriarchal Chinese marriage traditions. Through the marriage law of 1950, everybody in China was given freedom to choose his or her partner in marriage. However, meeting potential mates especially in the countryside was not easy, hence low chances of getting a marriage partner (Niida, 2010, p.2). There was limited privacy for courtship and in the villages, flirting or close conversation between unmarried women and men was not allowed. Parents usually proposed or chose matches for their daughters and sons. This was because, even with the new law, marriages were between families rather than just between individuals. Social classes Social class refers to grouping of people based on their economic status. In China social class was one of determining factors in 1950’s .This is because marriage was taken to be an affair of the two marrying parties and their parents at such a time. Moreover, it was expectation of the society that the two marrying parties came from the same class in terms of social status. In a situation in which the two matches came from different social classes it was expected that the groom’s family was of a higher status as compared to bride’s status. The New Marriage Law, enacted by Mao himself, removed previous restrictions on marriage such as kin prohibitions, in order to further the notion of “Free-choice Marriage.” Now individuals were free to marry based on their own preference and not the opinion of others, race, social status, occupation or property (Croll, 1981). Furthermore, a significant change was seen in marriages in the1960’s since inherited wealth which was a significant figure was eliminated. This occurred because prior to the law, marriages were often a political or financial alignment between two families, designed to further the interests of both. The changes in law meant that people of varied social classes could marry one another. However, was still expected that the groom should be of a higher social class than the bride. Eventually new criteria for the ideal marriage partner were often socially created based on political consciousness, although relationships and marriages were still sometimes formed on other ideas. Zhitong dahoe or a political and ideological agreement became a sought after quality in potential relationships. Many magazines and periodicals of the time began supporting the idea that one’s spouse should share similar political views, attitude towards work, style of life and quality of thinking. Such philosophies paved the way for what anthropologists call heterogamous marriages between people of varying professions like laborers and educated professionals (Croll, 1981). Marriage choice and the establishment of alliances have been attributed to problems of stratification and socio-economic differentiation in China for years. Anthropologists and social theorists differenciate between closed marriage systems that suggest a spouse be chosen from one or more designated socio-economic categories and open marriage system that allow almost much anything except for incestuous relationships (Watson, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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