Chinese Kinship Systems


It would be impossible to disagree with the statement that “Chinese kinship is based on male predominance”. In fact this statement may even be under-emphasizing the control and absolute power that males wield across all levels of Chinese society. Of course, where their power initially comes from though, is through the family or termed differently the “jia”. It is this extended or ideal family that cultivates the consistent patrilineal form of control/descent and dictates that residence in said “jia” is primarily patrilocal. That being said, what I hope to be able to create over the following pages is a clearer understanding of the ideal (Chinese) system of control. This ideal ...

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system encountering problems and realities that are difficult to explain in an “ideal” sense.There is little doubt, according to Baker, that the first and foremost aspect to understanding Chinese families and society at large is the importance placed on male relationships and descent that is traced through a male line. In contrast, women in Chinese society were given little thought and even less power. They were to be used as reproducers of the male line and to aid in home/farm labour, apart from this; women had only small amounts of power and responsibility. In fact, the patriarchal system demanded that a wife’s only connection with her husband’s family be through the husband himself. Her future then, was caught up with his and her sons only, and she is expected “to see her husband’s interests as paramount in importance” (Baker, 1979).Yet, women and childbirth, were essential to the continuation of the patrilineal system, which started with the birth of a son or sons to any ...

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family but the extended family that came before him, and the “jia” that would surface in the future. Baker’s use of a rope metaphor works well here, depicting a rope (standing for male heirs and descendents) which stretches back into the past and forward into the future. “The rope at any one time may be thicker or thinner according to the number of strands (jia) or fibers (male individuals) which exist, but so long as one fiber remains the rope is there….That is the individual alive is the personification of all his forebears and all of his descendents yet unborn” (Baker, 1979). Surname, then, depicted who you were, who you had control over and who you needed to respect and ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 9/17/2005 08:33:48 PM
Category: World History
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 3281
Pages: 12

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