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Urbanization, Social Mobility, and the Construction of Family Property Relations in a Village Community in Southwest China

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DOI: 10.4236/aa.2019.93011    157 Downloads   337 Views
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ABSTRACT

Based on field data collected in a village community in Southwest China during the first decade of the new millennium, this paper shows that urbanization and increased social mobility contributed to growing awareness of individual rights and changing norms regarding domestic property division. Focusing on the division of farmland within rural families, this paper shows that due to the increasing rights-asserting activities of rural individuals, the traditional norms regarding property rights between genders and generations were subject to contestation and negotiation. For instance, as increasing social mobility and economic opportunities caused more and more villagers to leave rural areas, disputes could break out among brothers over what constitutes a fair property division—one based on traditional egalitarianism among sons or one based on labor investment. Also, daughters, who traditionally did not have access to family property, began to demand their shares of land when the family divided. Parents’ attitudes towards daughters could also change, offering some daughters the opportunities of succeeding family property. Such new perceptions and behavior regarding property rights can serve as a benchmark/starting point for examining whether and how property relations in rural communities had become more fluid as extensive urbanization and increased rural-urban migration took place in China in the second decade of the new millennium.

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Wu, Y. (2019) Urbanization, Social Mobility, and the Construction of Family Property Relations in a Village Community in Southwest China. Advances in Anthropology, 9, 151-168. doi: 10.4236/aa.2019.93011.

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