Handbook on the Family and Marriage in China
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Handbook on the Family and Marriage in China

Edited by Xiaowei Zang and Lucy X. Zhao

This Handbook advances research on the family and marriage in China by providing readers with a multidisciplinary and multifaceted coverage of major issues in one single volume. It addresses the major conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues of marriage and family in China and offers critical reflections on both the history and likely progression of the field.
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Chapter 4: Mate selection, intimacy, and marital love in Chinese society

William Jankowiak


Chinese society, as elsewhere, has constructed an often uneasy arrangement between the forces of passionate love, comfort love, and sexual desire. This arrangement requires continuous adjustment at the individual and societal level. The competing push and pull of feeling states and values common to the domains of love and sexual desire are seldom stable. This ensures that every generation will revisit, if not renegotiate, and thus modify the conventional explanation of how best to merge and thus integrate the pull toward emotional exclusiveness found in the impulse for love, with an equally powerful concern for social and economic practicality. This, then, is the chapter’s central focus: to probe assessment of research findings as they pertain to changes found in mate selection criteria, competing rationales, and social negotiations, voiced and unvoiced within the context of courtship and dating, that range from stark materialistic displays to private yearnings about the value of intimacy, and how the weight given that value has come to define what it means to have a satisfactory marriage.

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