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Introduction

图书名称:Re-Drawing Boundaries: Work, Households, and Gender in China
图书作者:Barbara Entwisle and Gail E. Henderson    ISBN:
出版社:Berkeley: University of California Press    出版日期:2000年

Gail E. Henderson and Barbara Entwisle

China is an especially interesting context for studies of work, household, and gender. During the past fifty years the Chinese have experimented fundamentally with both the meaning and substance of work. Notions of how work should be organized, where it should take place, and who should be doing it were redefined in the transition to socialism after 1949 and again in the shift to “market” socialism following the economic reforms of the late 1970s. As described and explored in this volume, this experimentation has had implications for households and gender as well. The volume is organized into four parts: 1. Perspectives on Work; 2. Recent Trends in Gender and Inequality; 3. Gender and Migration; and 4. Households and Work. This introduction provides an overview of each part. First, however, we explore the social, economic, and political context of China.

BACKGROUND

At the end of the twentieth century, China has emerged as the world's fastest growing economy. This is a breathtaking achievement. During the century prior to the Communist revolution, China was a poor, war-torn peasant society. The fall of the last dynasty in 1911, prompted in part by increasing economic encroachment by Japan and Europe, left the country without an effective central government until 1949. During this time, the nation experienced protracted regional conflict, fragile unification under the Nationalist regime led by Chiang Kai-shek, military aggression by Japan before and during the Second World War, and a four-year civil war. The Communist victory in 1949 finally established a secure and stable political order.

To create a socialist society China's new leaders set about transforming most of its social, economic, and political institutions. Work was collectivized, and private ownership was gradually eliminated. Marxist ideas about equality through labor played a central role in the redefinition of social relations in the areas of gender, family, urban-rural residence, work, and politics. The role of private household and family activities was diminished, and the personal and work lives of Chinese citizens in both urban and rural areas became increasingly subject to state control. In the countryside, after land reform redistributed farmers' plots, farms were gradually collectivized and then organized into larger communes. These communes promoted socialized agricultural labor and limited private activities such as sidelines, private gardening, and small household-run businesses (Parish and Whyte 1978). In the villages, Party cadres took control of many aspects of rural family and work life previously under clan and patriarch authority (A. Chan, Madsen, and Unger 1984; Huang Shu-min 1989). In cities, commerce and production were socialized and private enterprises gradually disappeared. The Party exercised authority over daily life through neighborhood residential committees and through urban workplaces, danwei (Henderson and Cohen 1984; Walder 1986; Whyte and Parish 1984).

The institution of the urban and rural household registration system in the late 1950s permanently linked welfare and employment opportunities to both household and place of residence and enabled the government to enforce migration restrictions. One of the world's strictest systems of population control thus reinforced and deepened the boundary between the nation's urban and rural populations. Successive political movements were launched to overcome this division— most notably the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), which relocated almost 20 million urban people to learn through labor in the countryside. Today, despite relaxed regulations that have encouraged the migration of over 100 million rural residents, the urban-rural divide remains China's largest social division (Griffin and Zhao 1993; Potter and Potter 1990).

Another great social divide China's new leaders addressed was the one between men and women. In 1949 the majority of Chinese women lived in the rural households of husbands, fathers, or sons. Regardless of where women lived, gender differences in educational attainment and employment opportunities were substantial. After the Communist revolution, legal reforms such as the Marriage Law of 1950 were enacted. Yet during the Maoist period (1949–1976), gender inequalities in work, education, marriage, and family relations were only intermittently the subject of political or legal campaigns (Andors 1983; Croll 1978; 1983; M. Wolf 1985). For the most part, the new Chinese government maintained the view that true gender equality would come hand in hand with socialism. Practically speaking, improved gender relations were to be enforced by the socialist organizations that controlled most aspects of daily life.

The exhortation to behavior reflecting the values of socialism was everywhere in evidence—in the media, in the small group political discussions held in all workplaces (Whyte 1974), and in the propaganda of Communist Party teams that investigated the implementation of various policies at the local level. Mao Zedong's assertion that “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” was reiterated throughout this period and inspired women labor models— “Iron Girls”— and one of the highest levels of female labor force participation in the world. At the height of radical Maoism, exemplified by the political excesses of the Cultural Revolution, the Communist worldview dominated everyday categories of discourse. When this state discourse was repudiated, following the death of Mao in 1976, individuals and communities reexamined and retold personal and local histories of the period. A major conundrum of post-Mao scholarship thus involves disentangling state rhetoric about equality between men and women, reconstituted versions of events, and the realities of lived experience.

The post-Mao reform era began officially in 1978. The leadership set out to transform China's lagging economy through introduction of market reforms; modernization of science, technology, industry, and agriculture; and opening China's markets to the global economy. The goal of increasing agricultural productivity spurred rapid decollectivization of communes in rural areas, returning control—though not ownership—of land to farm households. In urban areas, reform of state-run enterprises was more gradual, yet over time market forces have encouraged substantial organizational changes. The transition from a centralized, bureaucratic allocation system to a market-oriented economy has not been painless, as the rising unemployment figures, increasing number of failed state enterprises, and increasing urban-rural income inequalities attest. However, privatization and industrialization have created diverse opportunities and have changed the nature of work in contemporary China.

Certainly from the view of the household, much has changed over the past two decades: the rise of private sector activities (agricultural and nonagricultural, household-based and non-household-based); the industrialization of the countryside; the migration of workers within rural areas and between rural and urban areas; the “feminization” of agriculture, including activities once almost solely the province of men; continued gender wage differentials; and reports of discrimination against female industrial workers as enterprises are pressured to compete in the market place.

The motivation for this volume began with questions about how Chinese households were responding to these changes and how these responses were affecting the location and organization of work, especially in relation to gender. The “open door” policy of the 1980s also opened the door to social science research by both Chinese and foreign scholars. Many scholars were drawn to examine the social and economic consequences of such profound change. In addition, during the 1980s gender and gender inequalities became legitimate subjects of officially sponsored research (Croll 1995). The Chinese Women's Federation was commissioned to support investigations of unequal treatment, including female infanticide, the selling or kidnapping of rural women, and employment practices that discriminated against women workers. Despite these trends, documentation of the impact of the most recent economic changes on gender work patterns has been incomplete, as has description of the work patterns themselves.

The goal of the conference on which this volume is based was to rectify this deficit in the literature. More important, we sought to generate a comprehensive framework that would allow us to move beyond description and link work, household, and gender in an analytic model. To develop this framework requires: first, clear concepts of work, household, and gender; second, a detailed and nuanced understanding of recent changes in gender and work in China; third, a clear understanding of the ways in which Chinese families and households affect the organization of work and the work opportunities of individual members; and fourth, a well-specified model of individuals, families, and households within rapidly changing social and economic contexts.

In many ways the chapters of this volume contribute to achieving these objectives. Yet as the chapters describe and examine the interconnections between work, household, and gender, they also reveal the major theme that emerged at the conference: Clear concepts of work, household, and gender, which are necessary for conceptual and empirical research, are also elusive. What counts as work, what counts as household, and what constitutes properly gendered behavior are constantly shifting categories, and their boundaries are constantly being re-drawn. This is particularly evident in a time of rapid social and economic change, such as the period examined in this volume.

The chapters do address a number of basic questions about the nature of work, household, and gender in the reform era: What are the different categories of work, and how are men and women distributed across them? Do men or women predominate in private sector jobs, in household-based work activities, in migration for new employment opportunities? How do individuals interact with the resurrected household economy and with the collective and state-run sectors? This volume takes two approaches that are combined in each section. The first is straight-forward and substantive. To fill in the many gaps in our knowledge, we draw together studies by scholars from several disciplines, using a variety of data and methodologies, to define and describe work patterns in contemporary China. The second approach is to contextualize these descriptions with historical and other qualitative accounts, challenging some of the accepted wisdom about work and the place work occupies in and between households, and offering both new accounts and new questions with which to address these topics. One way or another, each of the chapters illustrates the logic of the volume's subtitle: the interconnectedness of work, household, and gender.

PERSPECTIVES ON WORK

The goals of part 1 are to problematize the definition of work: to show that definitions change over time and to explore ideas about how who does what kind of work and where vary over time and stages of economic development. The theme of boundaries is introduced in this part and revisited in all the other parts.

Part 1 opens with a historical review by Susan Mann of work in imperial China, focusing particularly on the rise of households as units of production and the division of labor within households. Mann describes the origins of the still-common attitude about gender and work in China that associates women with activities done inside the household and men with jobs outside (e.g., “men till, women weave”). She provides the context of work as China underwent industrial and then socialist transformations, and work activity was increasingly shifted outside the household. Her chapter elegantly demonstrates that it is impossible to understand the nature of work without considering where it is done and who is doing it.

Chapter 2, by Gail Henderson, Barbara Entwisle, Li Ying, and associates, also takes up the question of the meaning of work, as well as the relationship between the meaning of work and its location and characteristics. In this case, the authors report on data from recent focus-group interviews with village and town residents in Hubei province. The particular concept explored is gongzuo, a term used during the Maoist era to mean permanent formal-sector employment—a “real job” in a state-run work unit. Whereas the authors find that a job is less likely to be thought of as gongzuo if it is private, household-based, low paying, temporary, and agricultural, they also find considerable diversity of opinion; and this diversity is not tied to any easily identified predictors, including gender and other background characteristics of the observer. Perhaps not surprisingly, the study shows that at a time of changing employment opportunities and shifting boundaries between private and public, household and non-household, and agricultural and nonagricultural activities, there is substantial ambiguity about what a “real job” is.

Rachel Rosenfeld provides a framework with which to consider these results, with comparative perspectives from the social sciences on work, household, and gender. She presents a simple two-by-two table, laying out categories and boundaries that invite explication and debate. Two crosscutting dimensions—remuneration and work location—create four categories: (1) paid work outside the home, (2) paid work within the home, (3) unpaid work outside the home, and (4) unpaid work inside the home. Rosenfeld considers linkages between these categories for individuals, households, and economies, and shows how work may shift across the boundaries of household and pay, with changes in perceptions, values, and rewards.

The final chapter in part 1 is the discussion by Stevan Harrell. It addresses the ways in which arguments about labor—about what is work and what is not, about the proper kinds of work for men and women, and specifically about the differences between household-and non-householdbased labor—have evolved as part of the broader discussions of what a post-collectivist Chinese society should look like. He describes the virtual elimination of household-based production in the socialist era, whether compensated or not, and the movement away from a gendered division of labor to an ideological denial of the gendered division of labor—where women were still at a disadvantage because they still had to do those things formerly defined as women's work. He concludes with a discussion of the blurring of distinctions between household-and non-household-based work, and the rethinking of the gender division of labor during the reform era.

RECENT TRENDS IN GENDER AND INEQUALITY

Part 2 shifts the focus from work to the meanings of gender and to gender inequality in work during the Communist and reform eras. These chapters examine the boundaries of gender as well as differences in the returns from work experienced by men and women in China since the revolution. The first two chapters rely on historical data to explore events in rural areas during the 1950s and 1960s, highlighting the ways that changing expectations about work for rural and urban women affected the meanings of gender. The second pair of chapters present results from survey data about factors related to specific types of gender inequalities in education, income, and job opportunities.

Gail Hershatter's chapter draws on documentary research and field interviews to tell the story of Cao Zhuxiang, a labor model in rural Shaanxi during the early 1950s. She brings us into the lives of rural women when the reorganization of agricultural work was just beginning. We learn about this process from the perspective of several women praised for crossing boundaries of household and work. Hershatter argues that by this process the state did not create a new, ungendered division of labor as much as it valorized and propagated one that already existed among many poor households in rural Shaanxi. State intervention in the form of visiting cadres, agricultural technicians, and Women's Federation officials was crucial in the emergence of labor models as recognizable revolutionary icons; in the process, some aspects of the gendered experience of these women were emphasized but others were ignored by state officials and by the women themselves.

Emily Honig explores gender and work during the Cultural Revolution through the experiences of “Iron Girls,” young women who crossed traditional gender boundaries in the division of labor and were featured for doing so in media reports of the era. Challenging received wisdom about the Cultural Revolution, Honig finds that rather than sponsoring contestation of gender roles through promoting the Iron Girls, it was far more common for the media to emphasize women's general participation in the paid labor force and to honor their achievements in female occupations such as textiles. Her analysis of the personal memoirs of urban youth “sent down” to the countryside demonstrates that the assumption of male occupations by Iron Girls never represented cultural norms about appropriate roles for women and that the gendered dimensions of work during this era were far more complex than has previously been recognized.

Shifting the focus to urban employment, Yanjie Bian, John R. Logan, and Xiaoling Shu present data on the work lives of Tianjin residents over the last half-century from a 1993 survey. They examine gender disparities in urban wages, which despite rapid changes in the economy and class structure as a whole, have persisted relatively unchanged. They find five key reasons for this persistence, the most important being the policy that requires working women to retire ten years earlier than working men. Other factors include differential access to higher education, Party membership, administrative and market-potential jobs, jobs in state versus collective work units, and the fact that women change occupations and work units less often than men, and when they do, it helps them less.

In a companion essay, Ethan Michelson and William L. Parish examine the sources of men's and women's educational and economic success in the countryside, using data from the 1991 wave of the China Health and Nutrition Survey, a survey of eight provinces. They find that patriarchy matters, with parents devoting more resources to sons and employers continuing to favor men over women. Yet they also find that patriarchy is weakened by economic development. Women who live in more developed communities appear to enjoy distinct advantages, including better education and better jobs. Initially, single women in these communities benefit. However, at higher levels of development, where nonfarm work in a community exceeds 60 percent, even married women enter the nonfarm labor market. Finally, Michelson and Parish find that family connections still count. When it comes to staying in school and to finding a good job, scarce social capital is expended more often for men than for women.

The discussion chapter for part 2, by Martin K. Whyte, unites these accounts of gender and work with a review of the complex issues involved in attempting to reach summary conclusions about gender inequality in China. He observes that it is especially difficult to assess the possible impact of the economic reforms on gender inequality when comparable baseline data from earlier periods are lacking or are of questionable objectivity. Furthermore, even if such evidence were available, it is unlikely that there would be a simple answer about whether women's situation relative to men has improved or deteriorated in the reform era. Examining recent claims about gender inequalities, including increased job discrimination against urban women, a rise in the abduction and sale of rural women, and a new rise in female infanticide, Whyte concludes that the picture is mixed.

GENDER AND MIGR ATION

Part 3 turns our attention to work, household, and gender in a special context—the recent phenomenon of rural migration of individuals and/or households in search of new work opportunities. Like parts 1 and 2, this part includes chapters that employ different types of data and methodologies, namely, census data, social surveys, and ethnographic observations of a community of unofficial migrants. The term “official migrant” in China refers to those with an official change of household registration and includes students, those with official job transfers, and (mainly) women who move for marriage. “Unofficial migrant,” a relatively new category, includes people who move for economic or family reasons but do not change their household registration.

Chapter 10 sets the stage with a description of Zhejiangcun, a settlement in Beijing populated by unofficial migrants from Zhejiang province, near Shanghai. Li Zhang's powerful essay explores the interconnections between gender relations, social space, and the meaning of work in this migrant community. It highlights the relationships between power, work, and the construction of gendered spaces, especially spaces “inside” and “outside” of households. Two arguments are made: First, the migrant or floating population is a highly stratified and diversely situated social group, and accordingly, migrant women occupy various social positions and encounter changes in gender relations in very different ways. Second, the increase of migrant women's economic status or participation in economic activities does not necessarily go hand in hand with their empowerment. Zhang finds that wives in middle-income households share a more egalitarian relationship with men than do women in the wealthiest households, but interestingly, she also finds that their work, though indispensable, tends to be devalued because economic production is domesticated, that is, performed at home.

Chapter 11 contextualizes Zhang's portraits of migrant women by presenting data on migration from Zhejiang province. Using 1990 census data, Xiushi Yang compares men and women in their propensity to migrate, reasons for migrating, and characteristics associated with migration. He finds that regardless of type of migration (within or between provinces, official or unofficial), men are more mobile than women. Further, men are more likely to migrate for economic reasons than women, although for official migrants economic reasons dominate for both and the gender difference is relatively small. Also examined is the connection between rural out-migration and female participation in agricultural production (the “feminization” of agriculture). Like Michelson and Parish's observations in chapter 8, Yang's results suggest some female substitution for male labor in agricultural production, mainly due to rural industrialization.

Sidney Goldstein, Zai Liang, and Alice Goldstein present data on migration, gender, and work between 1985 and 1990, based on an analysis of census data for Hubei province. They find that men are more likely to be unofficial migrants and women to be official migrants. Men make official moves most often for schooling and job relocation, whereas marriage and family reasons account for most official moves made by women. “Business” was the reason given by most unofficial migrants, male or female. Citing survey data, the authors report that women who migrate for economic reasons believe that migration has enabled them to benefit from economic change and has provided them with a degree of autonomy not possible at their place of origin.

Wang Feng closes part 3 by posing and responding to three sets of questions about the relationship between gender and migration. Asking who benefits from migration, Wang reports that while males predominate among official migrants who move for economic reasons, females are better represented among the temporary or unofficial migrants. Next, he asks whether women are “associational” migrants, meaning that they move with their family and mainly for family-related reasons. The answer appears to be no, the majority of female unofficial migrants move for other reasons. Lastly, Wang raises the fundamental question of the effect of migration on women's work and gender equality. As the other chapters in part 3 demonstrate, the answer is complex. Migration offers increased work opportunities for women, but that work seems to be concentrated in a few sectors. Moreover, even when working in the same industries, women migrants are less likely than men to occupy positions of power and high salary. One issue, Wang concludes, is that, compared with urban women who are official residents or official migrants, unofficial migrant women lack the institutional support or intervention that might promote gender equality.

HOUSEHOLDS AND WORK

The chapters in part 4 examine the household in urban and rural contexts, asking how the emerging economic and political systems of the reform era have challenged or altered its role. Deborah Davis opens part 4 with a chapter on the critical role scarce housing has played in the configuration of Shanghai households. With parallels to Zhang's attention to social space, Davis provides a fascinating account of how housing strategies pursued by Shanghai residents during the early years of the regime have been challenged by the recommodification of residential space in the 1990s. Prior to the reform era, issues of property ownership were generally irrelevant because, legally, parents only retained “rights of occupancy” to their apartments. After 1991, as apartments became available for purchase to current household heads, coresidence became equated with co-ownership, generating the potential for conflict between coresident and non-coresident children. Describing the housing arrangements of 75 Shanghai female retirees and their 157 married children, Davis shows that in a more marketized urban economy, the norms of patrilineal succession have emerged as a salient parameter of coresidence and the boundaries of household membership have become more explicitly gender-specific.

Chapter 15, by Barbara Entwisle, Susan E. Short, Zhai Fengying, and Ma Linmao, asks a different set of questions about household strategies, in this case, strategies about economic activities. Positing that one way for households to minimize risk during times of economic transition is to diversify across activities, they document patterns of household diversification using data from the 1989 wave of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. They examine the extent to which households bridge three major dimensions of economic structure and change: occupation and industry (agricultural or not); mode of production (household-based or not); and employment sector (private, or state/collective). Specifically, they ask whether the diversified or specialized economic activities of household members reflect coordinated activity, or even an explicit household strategy. Despite the expectation that households would diversify, the authors find that there is less diversification and more household specialization observed in the data than expected.

Nan Lin's discussion chapter for part 4 interprets these findings and those of Davis as evidence of constraints imposed by structural factors and evidence of new opportunities arising when the constraints changed. Household strategies are a response to the impact of structure (economic opportunity, state policies) on the household organization of work activities. Lin focuses on factors that lead to the placement of social actors— individuals, families, and households—in a system of social inequality and associated rewards. As state policies change, not only will the types and extent of structural constraints and opportunities change, but the meaning of social context will change as well.

Re-Drawing Boundaries concludes with a chapter on boundaries by Barbara Entwisle and Gail Henderson. The essays in the volume illustrate the interrelationships of work, household, and gender in China. The familiar “inside/outside” dichotomy encapsulates this interconnectedness spatially and socially. Drawing on the other chapters in this volume, this concluding chapter traces the varying understandings of what counts as work and what does not, the spatial and social boundaries of households, and gender in relation to both. It shows how concepts of work, household, and gender presume the drawing of boundaries, and that not only is the movement across boundaries of interest, but so are the boundaries themselves. Furthermore, what counts as work, what counts as household, and what constitutes properly gendered behavior are also all in flux. As argued in this introduction, the “inside/outside” boundary is no more than a starting point. The boundary is not a given, but rather should be problematized as one among many potential influences on social arrangements.

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