Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 21 (2006). Copyright © Michaela S. Clemens; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


Alternatives to the traditional practice of patrilocal postmarital residence exist in modern day China and vary from urban to rural areas. Social and economic reforms that were instituted in postMao China had an influence on post-marital residence rules. These reforms include marriage laws, reproduction restrictions, the return to family farms, and greater access to employment. Government reforms had different impacts on urban and rural families, creating different family structures and compositions. Family customs, like post-marital residence, also diverged along rural and urban lines. In rural areas, patrilocality persists, but matrilocal marriage arrangements are increasing. In urban areas, a strong preference for neolocality is evident. There are also indications that patrilocal and matrilocal residence arrangements are becoming short-term transitions to neolocal residence. Using a collection of post-Mao literature, this paper examines the relationship between government policies and changes in urban and rural post-marital residence rules in contemporary China.

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