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Rural men in urban China: masculinity and identity formation of male peasant workers

Lin, Xiaodong (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis explores male peasant workers’ identity formation in contemporary post-Mao China. It is a qualitative study of 28 male peasant workers. Adopting an interpretivist perspective, this thesis uses a multi-method approach, including life histories, ethnography and discourse analysis. A primary purpose is to address the absence of male peasant workers from the literature on gender and migration as a gendered category and the reductive public representation of them through government and media images. In response, the thesis argues for the need to address the men’s self-representation in the construction of their dislocated masculine identities. There is a specific focus on their gendered experiences within the family and the workplace. The thesis examines the interconnections between gender, class and other social categories. A key argument is that the men’s narratives serve to challenge the assumptions of elite commentators that the rural men’s low status is a result of their continuing to occupy a traditional cultural habitus and thus failing to take up a modern urban identity and lifestyle. Such a position assumes that tradition and modernity exist in an oppositional logic, with the former being displaced by the latter. In contrast, my empirical work clearly illustrates a more complex picture. The male peasant workers deploy traditional cultural practices, such as xiao (dao) (filial piety), as a resource to develop ‘modern’ masculine identities as urban workers.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Mac an Ghaill, Mairtin
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Sociology
Subjects:HT Communities. Classes. Races
HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1082
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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