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Title:Self-growth, women's power and the contested family order in Taiwan: An ethnographic study of three contemporary women's groups
Author(s):Lu, Hwei-syin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gottlieb, Alma J.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Women's Studies
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:This dissertation examines how members of three newly founded women's self-growth groups in Taipei, Taiwan construct and reconstruct their domestic identities and power relationships in the family. The three groups studied are: the New Environmental Homemakers' Association (NEHA)--a housewives' voluntary group for environmental protection; and the Taipei Women's Development Center (TWDC) and the Warm Life Association (WLA)--both being support groups for divorced women and widows. Although speaking to different purposes, these groups engage women in redefining their domestic roles and searching for autonomy and power. All these women place an emphasis on maternal roles from which they gain domestic power. Many of these women, particularly those who are single parents, strengthen their mother-child ties to such an extent that they have challenged the patriarchal authority of the family. Also, many of the women deflate, blunt, and undercut the male-privileged family ideologies by playing down conjugal intimacy or, in case of divorce or widowhood, refusing remarriage.
These three women's groups do not give rise to a collective consciousness in women to fight against the patriarchal system. Rather, they provide women with reference points to maneuver between different domestic positions--those of wife, mother, and daughter. I call these maneuverings as repositionings that are strategic practices used by these women to better their interests and gain greater control over their lives. This research suggests that women's groups may lead to the redistribution of gender power and the reconstruction of gender ideologies on an individual basis. While studies of gender roles in China have overwhelmingly focused on the patriarchal suppression of women, I attempt to bring to the fore those women's voices that cannot be engulfed by male-dominant ideas in this study. By amplifying maternally-based power or rejecting the importance of marriage, many Taiwanese women have developed a "contested order" to the patriarchal form of the Chinese family in contemporary Taiwanese society.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Lu, Hwei-syin
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136668
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136668

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