Filial Considerations in Mate Selection: Urban and Rural Guangdong in the Post-Mao Era

Ching Wu Lake Lui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This article examines the transformation of filial piety by probing disagreements
between parents and children over marriage decisions. Based on field
observations and in-depth interviews in Guangdong, this research shows
that children’s responses to disagreements vary by gender, generation, and
rural or urban background. Collective family economies and intergenerational
moral imperatives create a strong patriarchal basis for filial obedience for
older respondents and rural non-migrants. Rural migrants’ responses are the
most diverse given the option to live separately from their parents, although
they feel obligated to please their parents, who are morally and culturally
constrained by their rural community. The resurgence of parental power
is conflated with strong reciprocal emotional bonding in young urbanites,
contributing to painful and prolonged negotiations with parents. Sons are
more constrained by parental authority than daughters, given the continued
importance of patrilineality. This study therefore illustrates the resilience and
the multifaceted transformation of filial piety in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
JournalModern China
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2019


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