Beyond resources and patriarchy: Marital construction of family decision-making power in post-Mao urban China

Jeping Zuo, Yanjie Bian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Resource theory and the patriarchy perspective maintain that wives have less family decision-making power either due to their lack of valuable resources or the persistence of male dominance culture. We examine a somewhat different pattern in post-Mao urban China, where wives have fewer resources and do more housework but nonetheless have greater family decision-making power than their husbands. Our in-depth interviews of 43 couples in Beijing show that resource-based power use is common among individualized or incompatible families. However, the dominant family organization is collectivized, in which the couple shares family resources, denounces equity-oriented exchange, and is guided by relational harmony. Among the couples from collectivized families, household responsibilities are recognized as a vital contribution to the family's well-being and thus are a primary source of family decision-making power. Male dominance culture is found more evident among collectivized than individualized or incompatible couples, but its presence does not seem as strong as that of household responsibilities regarding family decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-622+ii+vi-vii+x-xi
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

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