Revolutionizing the Family: Politics, Love, and Divorce in Urban and Rural China, 1949?1968 by Neil J. Diamant

Revolutionizing the Family: Politics, Love, and Divorce in Urban and Rural China, 1949?1968

byNeil J. Diamant

Hardcover | March 4, 2000

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In 1950, China's new Communist government enacted a Marriage Law to allow free choice in marriage and easier access to divorce. Prohibiting arranged marriages, concubinage, and bigamy, it was one of the most dramatic efforts ever by a state to change marital and family relationships. In this comprehensive study of the effects of that law, Neil J. Diamant draws on newly opened urban and rural archival sources to offer a detailed analysis of how the law was interpreted and implemented throughout the country.

In sharp contrast to previous studies of the Marriage Law, which have argued that it had little effect in rural areas, Diamant argues that the law reshaped marriage and family relationships in significant--but often unintended--ways throughout the Maoist period. His evidence reveals a confused and often conflicted state apparatus, as well as cases of Chinese men and women taking advantage of the law to justify multiple sexual encounters, to marry for beauty, to demand expensive gifts for engagement, and to divorce on multiple occasions. Moreover, he finds, those who were best placed to use the law's more liberal provisions were not well-educated urbanites but rather illiterate peasant women who had never heard of sexual equality; and it was poor men, not women, who were those most betrayed by the peasant-based revolution.

About The Author

Neil J. Diamant is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Tel Aviv University.

Details & Specs

Title:Revolutionizing the Family: Politics, Love, and Divorce in Urban and Rural China, 1949?1968Format:HardcoverDimensions:458 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.25 inPublished:March 4, 2000Publisher:University of California PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0520217209

ISBN - 13:9780520217201

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China’s new Communist government enacted a Marriage Law in 1950 to permit free choice in marriage and easier access to divorce, while prohibiting arranged marriages, concubinage and bigamy. It was among the most dramatic attempts that a state has ever made to transform marital and family relationships. Revolutionizing the Family: Politics, Love and Divorce in Urban and Rural China, 1949-1968 examines the impact the law had and how it was interpreted and implemented throughout the nation. Neil J. Diamant contends that the law reshaped marriage and family relationships in profound and often unexpected ways throughout the Maoist period.

Editorial Reviews

"Revolutionizing the Family is without doubt the most exciting and important book to have appeared on marriage practices and family reform in the 1950's and 1960's since the classics on the topic of the 1970's and early 1980's. Neil Diamant examines newly opened urban and rural archives to produce a detailed and richly documented analysis of the interpretation, implementation and effects of the 1950 Marriage law in diverse part of the country. . . . Diamant develops a wealth of critically important arguments that contribute to our understanding, not only of marriage, divorce and the family, but also of issues including state legitimacy, legal culture, and the characteristics and causes of violence. . . . This book promises to make an enormous difference to the way scholars approach the relation between women, family and the state in this period."--China Review