Cultural Support for Birth Limitation among Urban Capital-owning Women

Deborah Davis and Stevan Harrell

in Chinese Families in the Post-Mao Era

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 1993 | ISBN: 9780520077973
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520913578 | DOI:
Cultural Support for Birth Limitation among Urban Capital-owning Women

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The “family strategy” that most affects contemporary families in China is the decision to rear fewer children than Chinese families have historically wanted, a strategy which is especially favored by women who own substantial capital in a household business. Analyses of peasant and petty-commodity-producer households have generally treated households as molecular units that single-mindedly pursue a joint family fertility strategy, with all members in agreement about what is best for the group. In the negotiations that result from their different interests and structural positions, there are both winners and losers. Winners control the group strategy, sometimes against considerable opposition. These might be called “directed family strategies,” dependent on a special imbalance of power. The chapter argues that certain Chinese and Taiwanese women can obtain that power under economic conditions which obtained in the 1980s, and that they are likely to use it to lower their own fertility.

Keywords: family; China; peasant; households; fertility strategy

Chapter.  11061 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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