Neo-traditional Child Surnaming in Contemporary China: Women’s Rights as Veiled Patriarchy

Xiaoying Qi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


A sparse sociological literature on surnaming reports predominantly western cases. This article examines surnaming practices in present-day China, where married women universally retain their surname as part of a national political project. The one-child policy disrupts the practice of providing to a child his/her father’s surname. Wives from daughter-only families increasingly provide their surname to their child(ren). Various social forms of mother-surname-to-child practices are discussed, including those involving zhao-xu (uxorilocal marriage) and liang-tou-dun (‘two places to stay’). The article reports a gender strategy of mother-to-child surnaming that paradoxically enforces patriarchal inheritance and obligation. A concept, ‘veiled patriarchy’, is developed and applied to surnaming practices in contemporary China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001-1016
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Early online date14 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • gender
  • inheritance
  • obligation
  • power
  • surnaming
  • veiled patriarchy


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