Gender, Work, and Family in a Chinese Economic Zone

Laboring in Paradise

  • Nancy E Riley

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Nancy E. Riley
    Pages 1-13
  3. Nancy E. Riley
    Pages 15-31
  4. Nancy E. Riley
    Pages 107-128
  5. Nancy E. Riley
    Pages 129-138
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 139-162

About this book


This book examines the dynamics of power within the families of married women who have migrated from rural areas to China's Dalian Economic Zone.  Engaging the question of whether waged work gives women power in their families, this ethnographic study finds that women do indeed use their new positions and urban status to negotiate their family status.  However, women use these new resources not necessarily to promote their own individual liberation, but rather to strengthen their contribution as wives and, especially, as mothers.  Thus, this new modernity provides a space for the re-inscribing of traditional roles, even as it may work to give women new-found power within their families.  How and why this process occurs is related to the dual inequalities these women face as rural migrants and as women.


Chinese or foreign-owned factories Constructions of gender Dalian, Northeast China Emancipation of women Family studies Gender inequalitites in the household Lives of married women Motherhood Rural migration Urban status Women's power

Authors and affiliations

  • Nancy E Riley
    • 1
  1. 1., Department of Sociology/AnthropologyBowdoin CollegeBrunswickUSA

Bibliographic information