Marital power in inter-hukou families in China: An intersectionality approach

Ching Wu Lake LUI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


China’s household registration system (hukou) that assigns citizens into “rural” or “urban” status is a stratifying tool that shapes people’s social rights based on parents’ place of origin. This ethnographic research on inter-hukou couples suggests that the interlinked institutions of state and patriarchy construct differentiated and uneven marital power dynamics whereby inequalities are reproduced and/or transformed through everyday interactions. Rural wives of urban men are socially stigmatized and are treated by their husbands’ families as “unpaid reproductive workers,” depriving them of full membership in the urban family and the urban society. To resist overlapping oppression, rural women mask themselves as appropriate wives and filial daughters-in-law, achieving “urbanness” at the frontstage. At the same time, they secretly make gender alliances in both virtual and real spaces and lobby for their urban husbands’ support at the backstage, slowly eroding the dual structure of gender and hukou through family dynamics. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1190
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number5
Early online dateFeb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Lui, L. (2018). Marital power in inter-hukou families in China: An intersectionality approach. Journal of Family Issues, 39(5), 1165-1190. doi: 10.1177/0192513X17692378


  • Intermarriage
  • Marital power
  • Intersectionality
  • Gender
  • Patriarchy
  • Migration
  • China
  • Hukou


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