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postgraduate thesis: Xiangqin : matchmaking for Shengnü ("leftover women") in China

TitleXiangqin : matchmaking for Shengnü ("leftover women") in China
Authors
Issue Date2015
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Zheng, J. [郑静]. (2015). Xiangqin : matchmaking for Shengnü ("leftover women") in China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5481896
Abstract“Shengnü” (“leftover women”) has become a popular discourse in China during recent years. In existing literature and media coverage, discussion on shengnü often draws on population gender imbalance, western individualization theories, and women’s “too picky” mating criteria. Seeing beyond these perspectives, this research aims to problematize the myth of shengnü by explicating how this social phenomenon indicates the changing gender landscape and emerging new femininity in modern China. The empirical study is based on in-depth interviews with 36 women regarding their lived experience of partner selection through xiangqin (matchmaking). Their experience of participating in commercial xiangqin (matchmaking websites, matchmaking fairs, high-end matchmaking clubs, marriage hunting, and matchmaking TV shows) and parents-arranged xiangqin are investigated. Findings in the research demonstrate that empowered by a series of social structural changes in reform-era China, modern women have rising expectations in partner selection and they possess greater control over intimate relationship. It is argued that xiangqin in contemporary China provides a stage for rising new Chinese femininity characterized by pragmatic idealism. To maximize their gain in the marriage market, from modern commercialized xiangqin to “old fashioned” parents-arranged xiangqin, modern Chinese women proactively seize every opportunity to approach potential partners. However, while engaging in xiangqin, the practice in which the purpose of partner selection is directly and pragmatically foregrounded, they have not given up the romantic pursuit in their relationship ideal. The central discourse of “gan jue (感觉feelings)” in their mating concerns suggests that they consciously avoid downgrading themselves as slaves of pragmatism and proudly distinguish themselves from women of pervious generations who satisfy with conventional pattern of intimacy that centers on “da huo guo ri zi (搭伙过日子making a mundane living together)”. When dealing with intergenerational dynamics in partner selection, although they make conditional compromise pertaining to intimacy and resource flows between generations, they also demarcate their non-negotiable territory. This research helps to problematize the indefinable essence and transcendental nature in Western theorization of love; it also contributes to question existing literature that pragmatism and materialism dominate contemporary Chinese love culture under the context of market economy. It reveals that constraining cultural and structural forces still limit single women’s bargaining power in current Chinese society; and modern Chinese women make different kinds of adjustments to expand their life opportunities. Through frankly articulating their materially grounded concerns in partner selection, they redefine romance in precarious social environment and stage new morality in post-socialist China. By sticking to a “bu cou huo (不凑合no compromise)” stance in their pursuit of love, they demonstrate their persistence and strength as modern Chinese women. Their relevant site-specific femininity performance also exemplifies the flexibility of modern women in achieving their life ambitions.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectFemininity - China
Single women - China
Dating (Social customs) - China
Dept/ProgramSocial Work and Social Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/211139

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorZheng, Jing-
dc.contributor.author郑静-
dc.date.accessioned2015-07-07T23:10:46Z-
dc.date.available2015-07-07T23:10:46Z-
dc.date.issued2015-
dc.identifier.citationZheng, J. [郑静]. (2015). Xiangqin : matchmaking for Shengnü ("leftover women") in China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5481896-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/211139-
dc.description.abstract“Shengnü” (“leftover women”) has become a popular discourse in China during recent years. In existing literature and media coverage, discussion on shengnü often draws on population gender imbalance, western individualization theories, and women’s “too picky” mating criteria. Seeing beyond these perspectives, this research aims to problematize the myth of shengnü by explicating how this social phenomenon indicates the changing gender landscape and emerging new femininity in modern China. The empirical study is based on in-depth interviews with 36 women regarding their lived experience of partner selection through xiangqin (matchmaking). Their experience of participating in commercial xiangqin (matchmaking websites, matchmaking fairs, high-end matchmaking clubs, marriage hunting, and matchmaking TV shows) and parents-arranged xiangqin are investigated. Findings in the research demonstrate that empowered by a series of social structural changes in reform-era China, modern women have rising expectations in partner selection and they possess greater control over intimate relationship. It is argued that xiangqin in contemporary China provides a stage for rising new Chinese femininity characterized by pragmatic idealism. To maximize their gain in the marriage market, from modern commercialized xiangqin to “old fashioned” parents-arranged xiangqin, modern Chinese women proactively seize every opportunity to approach potential partners. However, while engaging in xiangqin, the practice in which the purpose of partner selection is directly and pragmatically foregrounded, they have not given up the romantic pursuit in their relationship ideal. The central discourse of “gan jue (感觉feelings)” in their mating concerns suggests that they consciously avoid downgrading themselves as slaves of pragmatism and proudly distinguish themselves from women of pervious generations who satisfy with conventional pattern of intimacy that centers on “da huo guo ri zi (搭伙过日子making a mundane living together)”. When dealing with intergenerational dynamics in partner selection, although they make conditional compromise pertaining to intimacy and resource flows between generations, they also demarcate their non-negotiable territory. This research helps to problematize the indefinable essence and transcendental nature in Western theorization of love; it also contributes to question existing literature that pragmatism and materialism dominate contemporary Chinese love culture under the context of market economy. It reveals that constraining cultural and structural forces still limit single women’s bargaining power in current Chinese society; and modern Chinese women make different kinds of adjustments to expand their life opportunities. Through frankly articulating their materially grounded concerns in partner selection, they redefine romance in precarious social environment and stage new morality in post-socialist China. By sticking to a “bu cou huo (不凑合no compromise)” stance in their pursuit of love, they demonstrate their persistence and strength as modern Chinese women. Their relevant site-specific femininity performance also exemplifies the flexibility of modern women in achieving their life ambitions.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshFemininity - China-
dc.subject.lcshSingle women - China-
dc.subject.lcshDating (Social customs) - China-
dc.titleXiangqin : matchmaking for Shengnü ("leftover women") in China-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5481896-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSocial Work and Social Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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