Family networks and life in southeastern China
This thesis examines social relationships and patterns of social interaction in contemporary rural China with a network perspective. Based on first hand data collected in southeastern China by the method of anthropological fieldwork, it tries to understand peasants' social behavior in the context of their concrete, multidimensional inter-family relations. This context of relations is called "family network". Family network is defined in this thesis as a quasi group formed by families that is directly linked by kinship and friendship and have frequent social exchange and interaction with the focusing family. It cuts across the boundaries of villages and of kin and non-kin. Throughout the thesis the emphasis is placed on patterns of social interaction in relation to different kinds of social relationship, and on the utilization of these relationships in social and economic life. In explaining people's behavior of supporting others, it is not the notion of group solidarity, but the idea of reciprocity (and mutual exploitation) between both sides of a relationship in the process of social exchange, that is considered as significant. The empirical materials described in this thesis also suggest important changes in patterns of social interaction and the notion of social relationship brought by a rapid economic development in the past ten years.