Gender and Employment in Rural China: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Gender and Employment in Rural China

1st Edition

By Jing Song


162 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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With China’s rapid advancements in urbanization and industrialization, there has been significant labor movement away from agriculture in the rural regions. Using four village case studies, Song examines how this restructuring process affects the rural population.

Much of her research is centered on their various perceptions and reactions towards the market reforms. How are their lives reshaped through the employment transition? Along with the changes of family life and the diversification of development models, how do an individual’s gender and background play a role in determining employment? These are the broad questions that Song addresses through detailed analysis of four different villages, in light of China’s move towards decentralization of its rural economy.


'Song’s incredibly detailed descriptions and nuanced analysis of the relationships among modernization pathways, employment structures and patterns, household labor diversification strategies, and gender ideologies and roles in these four villages over the recent decades greatly complicates and enriches the existing picture of rural China as an undifferentiated and underdeveloped space. Through the fascinating case studies, we learn that the development process is variously shaped by careful policy design as well as the vicissitudes of geography, timing, leadership, and natural or social endowments. The separate treatment of each village makes cross-village comparison rather unwieldy, but produces a meticulous longitudinal study. This monograph will be of great value to scholars, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students who wish to better understand socioeconomic change in contemporary rural China as well as the relationship between development and gender equality.' - Arianne M. Gaetano, Associate Professor of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University, USA

'Drawing on her solid and thorough study of four Chinese villages characterized by different combinations of socialist legacies, patriarchal traditions, and market forces, the author has done an excellent job in addressing simultaneously the peasant question and gender question regarding the employment transition from farm to nonfarm sectors in the process of urbanization and industrialization in China. The book offers readers great insights into the interaction between developmental politics and gender relations with the intermediation of family dynamics in China. This book will be valuable reading for researchers interested in gender, employment transition and rural China.' - Yu Song, Associate Professor, Department of China Studies, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China

'China is in the processes of rapid industrialization, urbanization and marketization, but none of them follow a linear path. Chinese peasants move back and forth between the city and the countryside, between industry and agriculture, and between the job market and community-based collectives. In the context, gender relations and employment patterns, as Jing Song superbly demonstrates, must be understood as processes of on-going negotiations between individuals, family norms, and local economies. Firmly grounded in in-depth empirical research, this book sets an exemplar of multi-scalar, context-specific and comparative analysis that captures highly complex dynamics of social changes in China.' - Biao Xiang, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables



Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 The Peasant Question and Gender Question

Chapter 3 Bei Village: Rural Industries and Private Businesses

Chapter 4 Su Village: Collective Legacy and the “New Socialist Countryside”

Chapter 5 Han Village: Urban Dream, Tied Migration and Male Bonding

Chapter 6 Ning Village: Integrated or Marginalized in Urbanization

Chapter 7 Conclusion


About the Author

Jing Song is Assistant Professor at Gender Studies Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic Conditions
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Rural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies