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The sex ratio question and the unfolding of a moral panic? : Notions of power, choice and self in mate selection among women and men in higher education in China

Eklund, Lisa LU (2018) In Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development p.105-125
Abstract
Young adults have largely been absent in previous research on consequences of high sex ratios in China and few studies have zoomed in on those belonging to the higher strata of the population. With the purpose of contributing to filling this gap, this study investigates what implications sex ratio imbalance has for mate selection strategies and practices among young adults aged 19–24 in higher education in China. Being qualitative in nature, the chapter problematizes notions of power, choice and self in mate selection. The study finds that the sex ratio question has contributed to new social risk, and the fear of being leftover has unfolded into a moral panic. With universal marriage as a norm, both women and men studied fear being subject... (More)
Young adults have largely been absent in previous research on consequences of high sex ratios in China and few studies have zoomed in on those belonging to the higher strata of the population. With the purpose of contributing to filling this gap, this study investigates what implications sex ratio imbalance has for mate selection strategies and practices among young adults aged 19–24 in higher education in China. Being qualitative in nature, the chapter problematizes notions of power, choice and self in mate selection. The study finds that the sex ratio question has contributed to new social risk, and the fear of being leftover has unfolded into a moral panic. With universal marriage as a norm, both women and men studied fear being subject to a marriage squeeze. Contrary to the dyadic power thesis, the study finds that women in higher education did not experience an advantage in mate selection despite their shortage. Reasons for this include elaborate criteria for the ideal spouse, gendered dating scripts and confined social circles. The risk of being “leftover” further makes both young men and women as well as their parents aware of the remote consequences of choice, which may instigate intentions of early timing of marriage, as well as hypergamous norms, as further fuelled by the construction of the “utilitarian woman” in media and popular discourse. The chapter concludes that by being constantly reminded of the risk of being “leftover”, marriage as a norm is further intensified among young adults. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
sex ratio, marriage squeeze, hypergamy, moral panic, mate selection, choice, utilitarian self
in
Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development
editor
Srinivasan, Sharada; Li, Shuzhuo; and
pages
105 - 125
publisher
Springer
ISBN
978-3-319-63274-2
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d5f36934-f9dd-4389-91fc-8310d8c728c7
date added to LUP
2017-10-26 10:20:17
date last changed
2017-11-17 14:28:49
@inbook{d5f36934-f9dd-4389-91fc-8310d8c728c7,
  abstract     = {Young adults have largely been absent in previous research on consequences of high sex ratios in China and few studies have zoomed in on those belonging to the higher strata of the population. With the purpose of contributing to filling this gap, this study investigates what implications sex ratio imbalance has for mate selection strategies and practices among young adults aged 19–24 in higher education in China. Being qualitative in nature, the chapter problematizes notions of power, choice and self in mate selection. The study finds that the sex ratio question has contributed to new social risk, and the fear of being leftover has unfolded into a moral panic. With universal marriage as a norm, both women and men studied fear being subject to a marriage squeeze. Contrary to the dyadic power thesis, the study finds that women in higher education did not experience an advantage in mate selection despite their shortage. Reasons for this include elaborate criteria for the ideal spouse, gendered dating scripts and confined social circles. The risk of being “leftover” further makes both young men and women as well as their parents aware of the remote consequences of choice, which may instigate intentions of early timing of marriage, as well as hypergamous norms, as further fuelled by the construction of the “utilitarian woman” in media and popular discourse. The chapter concludes that by being constantly reminded of the risk of being “leftover”, marriage as a norm is further intensified among young adults.},
  author       = {Eklund, Lisa},
  editor       = {Srinivasan, Sharada and Li, Shuzhuo},
  isbn         = {978-3-319-63274-2},
  keyword      = {sex ratio,marriage squeeze,hypergamy,moral panic,mate selection,choice,utilitarian self},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {105--125},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development},
  title        = {The sex ratio question and the unfolding of a moral panic? : Notions of power, choice and self in mate selection among women and men in higher education in China},
  year         = {2018},
}