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    Modern China

    September 2010; 36 (5) : pp463 - 555


    Who Gets the House? Renegotiating Property Rights in Post-Socialist Urban China

    Deborah Davis

    Yale University, New Haven CT, USA

    AbstractPrivatization of urban housing in China has altered the basic parameters of household dissolution from those that prevailed before 1980. For several reasons, divorce was rare during the Mao years, but one critical barrier was employer control over urban housing. Thirty years later, employers no longer supply new flats and the majority of urban couples are homeowners. Simultaneous with the privatization of urban real estate has been a divorce revolution. In 1978 there was one divorce for every twenty marriages and courts handled half of the cases. By 2008 there was one divorce for every five marriages and courts finalized less than 30 percent of cases. Through a comparison of the changes in black letter law and arguments made by ordinary citizens in 24 focus groups, the article illustrates how ordinary citizens are negotiating with black letter law to institutionalize post-socialist property rights.




    Unfinished Proletarianization: Self, Anger, and Class Action among the Second Generation of Peasant-Workers in Present-Day China

    Pun Ngai

    Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR

    Lu Huilin

    Peking University, Beijing, China

    AbstractAs a result of its open-door policies and 30 years of reform, China has become the “world’s factory” and given rise to a new working class of rural migrant workers. This process has underlain a path of (semi-)proletarianization of Chinese peasant-workers: now the second generation is experiencing dagong, working for a boss, in industrialized towns and cities. What is the process of proletarianization of peasant-workers in China today? In what way does the path of proletarianization shape the new Chinese working class? Drawing on workers’ narratives and our ethnographic studies in Shenzhen and Dongguan between 2005 and 2008, this study focuses on the subjective experiences of the second generation of dagongmei/zai, female migrant workers/male migrant workers, who have developed new forms of power and resistance unknown to the previous generation of workers. Did the pain and trauma experienced by the first generation of dagong subjects gradually evolve into the anger and resentment that has conditioned the labor strikes and class actions of the second generation? In short, what continuity and change can we observe in the life struggles of this new working class? Is the second generation of dagong subjects compelled to take action as a result of long-endured pain and anger? Self, anger, and collective action among the new working class propel the narrative described in this article.




    Female Spirit Mediums and Religious Authority in Contemporary Southeastern China

    Erin M. Cline

    Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

    AbstractAlthough studies of Chinese spirit mediums in Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan abound, there has been little work done on spirit mediums in mainland China today. Yet spirit mediums play an important role in religious life in southeastern China, and in some areas, spirit mediums are predominantly women. This phenomenon is significant not only because it allows women who are of relatively low status to hold positions of religious authority but also because female spirit mediums sometimes address community needs that are not addressed by other religious authorities.




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