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Jing Song and Lulu Li

Chapter 5 studies mate selection in rural China, stressing local variations, temporal change, and persisting patterns. It reviews three aspects of scholarship on mate selection in rural China: courtship and marriage formation, mate selection preferences, and mate selection markets. Although modernity and individuality are a general trend governing these three aspects, the persistence and revival of patriarchy and gender hierarchy are also evident. In the post-1978 era, market expansion and policy changes have led mate selection trends in different directions, such as increasing ‘girl power’, reinforcing status homogamy, and intensifying the marriage squeeze. Some policy outcomes were unexpected, due to the complicated interaction of family structures, market forces, political factors, and gender norms. For rural people, marriage is not only increasingly entrenched with emotion and affection, but also an institution of status match.

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Lynda Jiwen Song, Junfeng Wu and Jing Zhou