When Verschuur-Basse, a French sociologist specializing in the family, was invited by the Academy of Social Sciences to Beijing in 1985, she interviewed women from three generations and a variety of professions about their lives as women, wives, mothers, and daughters-in-law. Over a five-year period she conducted in-depth, non-directed interviews with educated women who were able to analyze and interpret their lives in the context of important formative factors such as the Cultural Revolution, the one-child policy, and other social reforms. The difference between urban and rural expectations from women is particularly apparent in the life stories of the 13 women included in this book. The women voice common concerns as wives and mothers who work outside the home and comment on the prevalence of abortion and preference for male children, the increase in divorce rates, and the place of women as decision-makers in the family. Originally published in French as Paroles de Femmes Chinoises: La Famille Autrement (Harmattan, 1993), the study received critical acclaim from academy and media as a revealing portrayal of social reality in China.
About the Author:
DENYSE VERSCHUUR-BASSE was for many years Associate Professor of Sociology of the Family at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Holding degrees in law and social sciences from Paris, she has spent 10 years researching the sociology of labor in Latin America. In collaboration with the Academy of Social Sciences of Beijing, she spent five years in China researching women's studies.