Assess the impact of reform and modernisation on ONE of the following dimensions of China’s political sociology: class, gender, ethnicity, or the environment
Manza defines political sociology as the study of power and domination within social relationships. This essay will explore the impact that China’s re-formed economic policy has had over the past 40 years on one in particular dimension of China’s political sociology: gender. It will do this by firstly examining the new roles and identities that have been assigned to males and females following the break up of the ‘iron rice bowl’. Additionally, how these developments have influenced the roles of women within society will be discussed. Finally, the impact of trade liberalisation and China’s new involvement as a global leader on women’s rights will also be evaluated.
“For generations and certainly during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and Republican period (1911-1949), the teachings of Confucius were practised within China, in order to create a social and family hierarchy”. This led to “women’s correct place being seen to be within the house’; man’s correct place to be outside of the house”. Greenhalgh argues that “following traditional Confucian teachings led to a system within China in which men were in charge of all important decisions.
However, after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, women’s status dramatically improved. Mao Zedong saw women as crucial within the production process and even stated that “women hold up half the sky”. Mao believed that “genuine equality between the sexes can only be realised in the process of socialist transformation of society as a whole”. To improve gender equality Mao believed that women needed to hold basic rights. This led to the passage of the Marriage Law (1950) which stated that women could only get married if they consented to it, instead of being forced into marriage by their family. Secondly, the Agrarian Reform Law (1950) was also passed which “gave women their first legal rights to own land”.
At this time, China was on the brink of bankruptcy. This lead to the creation of ‘state owned enterprises’ (SOEs). SOEs can be defined as companies which were fully owned by the state and that employed both men and women to carry out the work. They promoted the notion of ‘equal work, equal pay” for both men and women. Initially, before these SOEs were opened women represented a meagre 7% of the total work force. However, by the start of the 1970s, it was reported that 80% of all women in China took place within the production process”. This increase in wages for women allowed them “to have more choices about how to participate within society and allowed them to have more bargaining power within their households”. These SOEs were seen to “put an end to the feudal marital and family system that had endured for thousands of years”. Furthermore, SOEs offered comprehensive welfare packages which were provided for workers...