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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10397/3727

Title: Marital conflicts in dual-earner families in Beijing : a gender perspective
Authors: Zhang, Lixi
Subjects: Marital conflict -- China -- Beijing
Family -- China -- Beijing
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Abstract: This research is an attempt to study the phenomenon of marital conflict in dual-earner families in Beijing with a gender perspective. The findings highlight that micro- as well as social forces such as societal gender role expectations, gender ideology and power differentials between the couples affect marital conflict interactively, unearthing the connections of this "private" issue with its public roots. The study further points out that such a realization of the importance of the social aspect impacting on marital conflict contributes to a re-examination of the existing framework of understanding marital conflict and marital counseling in Mainland China. In the study, the interactive impacts of the centuries-old male-oriented family system and gender ideology on the one hand, and the effects of gender equality policies initiated by the Chinese government since the early 1950's upon women's social participations on the other, and their impacts on couples within dual career families were studied. The focus is on how these interactive forces affect marital conflicts between them. Within "tradition" and "change", gender role expectations and power differentials between the couples were taken as the two main areas of investigation. Specifically, the focus is on whether the interacting forces of changing gender role expectations and power differentials in the family have prompted the marital dissatisfaction, and conflicts, of the wives and husbands. The study also focuses on investigating whether the demand for a reconstruction of a new gender relationship, which upsets the balance of power and "traditional" gender division of labor in the family, affects marital dynamics.
Fifteen married couples from dual-earner families facing marital conflict in Beijing participated in this qualitative research with in-depth interviews. The data indicate that the couples' conflicts arose largely from, though with varying degrees, their differences in role assumptions and expectations, and different responses to changing demands on the gender division of labor as well as gender relations and power differentials within the family, The data also show that traditional gender ideology, "the man should be responsible for the public sphere and the woman the private sphere", still lingers on, more among the husbands than wives, and becomes a hindrance to adjustment to new expectations and gender equality within the family. The husbands' refusal or unpreparedness to accommodate to changing demands in the face of women's increased participation in the labor market and sharing of the breadwinner's role is one major potential factor in marital conflict in Mainland China's dual-earner families. Such unpreparedness can be traced, in past, to a failure on the part of the Chinese government's effort in advocating gender equality since the early 1950's. While it has actively urged women to shift their attention from the family to the society, it has neglected the importance, and encouragement, of the corresponding reassignment of the roles of men and women at home. One limitation of this study lies in the small number of the participants. Thus it has limited generaliability in terms of the complexity of dual-earner families in modem Chinese cities. Nevertheless, the findings of the study do enable us to better understand the dynamics of struggle among couples in the face of new gender role expectations and invite us to rethink the existing theoretical framework of understanding marital conflicts in a changing China.
Degree: Ph.D., Dept. of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2002.
Description: vii, 202 p. ; 30 cm.
PolyU Library Call No.: [THS] LG51 .H577P APSS 2002 Zhang
Rights: All rights reserved.
Type: Thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10397/3727
Appears in Collections:APSS Theses
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