Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration, and Social Change

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M.E. Sharpe, 2005 - Business & Economics - 329 pages
Based on in-depth ethnographic research--and using an approach that seeks to understand how migration is experienced by the migrants themselves--this is a fascinating study of the experiences of women in rural China who joined the vast migration to Beijing and other cities at the end of the twentieth century. It focuses on the experiences of rural-urban migrants, the particular ways in which they talk about those experiences, and how those experiences affect their sense of identity.

Through first-hand accounts of actual migrant workers the author provides valuable insights into how rural women negotiate rural/urban experiences; how they respond to migration and life in the city; and how that experience shapes their world view, values, and relations with others. The book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the relationship between gender and social change, and of the ways in which globalization and modernity are experienced at the most personal level.



Between Rural Idiocy and Urban Modernity
Assembling Working Sisters
In and Out of Place
The Place of Desire
Narrative Time and Agency
List of Interlocutors Named in the Text
Map 1 The Peoples Republic of China
Beijing Municipality

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Page 16 - And subjects do have agency. They are not unified, autonomous individuals exercising free will, but rather subjects whose agency is created through situations and statuses conferred on them.
Page 11 - When experience is taken as the origin of knowledge, the vision of the individual subject (the person who had the experience or the historian who recounts it) becomes the bedrock of evidence on which explanation is built.
Page 12 - It is not individuals who have experience, but subjects who are constituted through experience. Experience in this definition then becomes not the origin of our explanation, not the authoritative (because seen or felt) evidence that grounds what is known, but rather that which we seek to explain, that about which knowledge is produced.
Page 36 - The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.
Page 11 - Questions about the constructed nature of experience, about how subjects are constituted as different in the first place, about how one's vision is structured — about language (or discourse) and history — are left aside.
Page 12 - Making visible the experience of a different group exposes the existence of repressive mechanisms, but not their inner workings or logics; we know that difference exists, but we don't understand it as relationally constituted. For that we need to attend to the historical processes that, through discourse, position subjects and produce their experiences.
Page 37 - ... did not have correct leadership such as the proletariat and the Communist Party provide today; every peasant revolution failed, and the peasantry was invariably used by the landlords and the nobility, either during or after the revolution, as a lever for bringing about dynastic change. Therefore, although some social progress was made after each great peasant revolutionary struggle, the feudal economic relations and political system remained basically unchanged.

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