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Title: Everyday Moralities : Family, Work, Ritual, and the Local State in Rural China
Author: Steinmuller, Johannes
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 8498
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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In this thesis I explore the changes and continuities In everyday moralities in contemporary rural China. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in one township in the Enshi region of Hubei Province, I give an ethnographic description of family and work relations, popular ritual, and the local state. The first part of the thesis explores the moral frameworks which are reproduced in practices related to the family. In the processes of house construction and in different forms of work, I describe the interplay between categorical moral demands and contingent realities. In the second part, I deal with family celebrations, in particular weddings and funerals. To analyse them, I elaborate a theoretical perspective on Chinese ritual (li) as a moral practice of "centering". Popular rituals also provide examples of the heightened sense of ambiguity between local sociality and the state, which is the main theme of the third part of the thesis. Drawing on case studies of gambling and local development projects, I suggest that these ambiguities are productive of "cultural intimacy". I conclude by arguing that everyday life in contemporary rural China is characterized by an increased sense of moral and ethical reflexivity. Recognizing the importance of moral frameworks, whilst remaining open to their ironic displacement, the notion of "everyday moralities" is an attempt to grasp this reflexivity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available