Being a Valuable Daughter in a Rural Family: The Relational Identity and Empowered Gender Subjectivities of Female Vocational College Students

Anita Koo*, Yang Zhan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

The rapid expansion of vocational higher education, the labor market, and the emergence of individualistic values have empowered the young generation of Chinese rural women, granting them more autonomy in planning their futures and constructing their identities. This article explores the motivation for vocational higher education and the meaning attached to education and employment among the female college students from rural households, primarily through in-depth interviews. While investigating the strategies young women employ for economic empowerment and self-development, we identify a new form of empowered gender subjectivity highly tied to their strong desire to become valuable daughters within their natal patrilineal families. They aim to transform the devalued role of daughters in the patriarchal system by aspiring to provide continuous financial, emotional, and physical support for their parents through a smooth school-to-work transition. This empowered agency, however, does not necessarily challenge the gender structure of the labor market and the primary caregiving role of women in families. This study also underscores the relational nature of individual identity in China and highlights the intricacies of educated young women’s gendered subjectivities under the rapid social, cultural, and economic transitions in Chinese rural communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-286
Number of pages28
JournalChina Review
Volume23
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies

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