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Title: The reinforcement and reproduction of gender stereotypes in high schools in mainland China
Author: Wang, Yayun
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2020
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It is impossible to separate gender issues in the Chinese context from its political, historical, and cultural as well as language environment. The infamous oppression of women, such as polygamy and footbinding before the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 have been well-documented. After 1949, China has experienced unprecedented social changes and dramatic economic development which have made contributions to the shifts in public gender values. The current gender power relationship in the Chinese context is shaped by the longlasting traditional gender culture which oppresses women, as well as various economic and political factors including the unique Chinese family planning policies. This research explores the dynamic process involved in how gender stereotypes are reinforced and reproduced in Chinese school environments, in which the gender habitus in students' private sphere is intricately intertwined with the gender habitus in the public sphere to influence young people's life trajectories. This research uses an integrated theories consisting of Bourdieu's cultural capital (1986), habitus (1977) and Butler's gender performance (1988) in order to explain how gender structure combined with social status influence students' educational aspirations and choices. The active role of students in helping to construct and maintain gender relations through performing gender in school environments is also addressed. Fieldwork for this qualitative study was conducted between May, 2017 and August, 2017 in one Chinese high school-HYA High School in Jiangsu Province in East China. The data was collected mainly by semi-structured interviews. In order to explore the active roles of different social groups in the process of reproducing gender stereotypes in educational institutions, target participants of this study include students, parents and teachers. In total, twelve teachers and seventeen students in the third grade of HYA High School as well as eight parents of those students were invited to participate in the study. The research findings have been generated by thematic analysis. It is argued within this thesis that parents, teachers and peer groups all participate in the process which shapes young students' educational aspirations and school experiences on the basis of gender. In addition to showing the interplay of family and schools, this study also demonstrates the differences which exist between the forces of the private and the public spheres in reproducing male privileges. Compared with some parents' ambivalence in raising children in light of gender roles, the gender regime in educational institutions is found to be systematic and pervasive. The research findings suggest that both female and male students are limited by gender stereotypes and the binary gender system, but with different consequences. The rigid gender system still favours males while it is ultimately detrimental to females, namely that Chinese boys have more options than Chinese girls in different areas. The research calls for attentions to female students' dilemma in Chinese school environments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral