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Chinese Families in the Post-Mao Era$
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Deborah Davis and Stevan Harrell

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780520077973

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520077973.001.0001

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Cultural Support for Birth Limitation among Urban Capital-owning Women

Cultural Support for Birth Limitation among Urban Capital-owning Women

(p.251) Ten Cultural Support for Birth Limitation among Urban Capital-owning Women
Chinese Families in the Post-Mao Era

Deborah Davis

Stevan Harrell

University of California Press

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

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