Fairy brides from heaven: Mate selection in rural China, 1949-2000

Jing SONG, Nancy Luke

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated how men and women in rural China actively responded to macro-level government interventions with their marriage choices across three historical periods: nascent socialism, the Cultural Revolution, and the era of market reform. We outlined major shifts in ideological foci and redistributive policies and linked these macro-level "shocks" to detailed life history narratives (N = 42 spouses from 38 marriages) to explore changing meanings of gender preferences and the availability of preferred partners in the marriage market. The qualitative analysis revealed that the preferences of women and men for spouses with particular characteristics remained relatively stable over time: women used marriage as a vehicle for economic security and men sought brides who would be good homemakers and mothers. However, the shifting economic and political climate influenced the types of individuals endowed with essential resources and thus changed the characteristics most coveted in the marriage market across periods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-515
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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