Post-socialist urban marriages: (Re)verticalization of family loyalties in urban Shanghai

Deborah Davis, Professor of Sociology, Yale University
| 103 McNeil Building


Reading: Davis, Deborah S. (2014). "Privatization of Marriage in Post-Socialist China." Modern China, 40(6), 551-577.

Abstract:  "Since 2000 demographic, economic, and cultural changes in Chinese cities have so increased parental financial and emotional investments in the weddings and marriages of their (usually) single son or daughter that loyalties between parents and adult children frequently trump those between engaged couples or married spouses. Therefore, in contrast to the 'triumph of conjugality' that Yan Yuxiang (2003) identified as the dominant trend during the early 1990s, today one observes a re-verticalization of family loyalty whereby ties between parents and children overwhelm  the 'horizontal' conjugal desires and priorities of  husbands and wives. One most clearly observes this pattern during wedding preparations and rituals and during the first years of marriage but it also is salient after children are born, grandchildren become teenagers, and parents become physically and financially less independent. In this essay I draw on primarily on data collected from focus groups, oral histories,and participant observation since 2014 in order to describe and explain this defining characteristic of family loyalties in urban China."