Feminism in transition: Chinese culture, ideology and the development of the women's movement in China

Alicia S M LEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


This study is concerned with transitional gender roles and relations, illuminated through an examination of the status of women in China from the Mao era to the post-Mao era. The study reveals that the socialist state has maintained a high degree of control over gender construction in order to legitimise its historical achievement of revolution and liberation, assuming given gender identities within the official discourse of socialism. Liberation meant creating a fundamentally new and more democratic socialism within a male hegemony. This is derived from the core philosophy Confucianism in which human role relations are cultivated and developed within a male-centred world. Consequently, this discourse opens up an authoritative normalisation process that hinders women's progress in the state, in the household and in organisations. Women's new identity involves aspects of biologically given features, internalisation of the patriarchal family and social relations. Collective relational construction therefore emphasises the feminine/maternal principles of identity, denouncing separation and independence. This phenomenon seems to be pushing the whole of gender politics in China back towards more traditional sex role differences and power imbalances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-374
Number of pages16
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Confucianism
  • Gender identities
  • Liberation
  • Socialism
  • Women


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