Thinking on the State and Family and Female Discourse
Tags: 2017-11-27

Thinking on the State and Family and Female Discourse – The Second Forum for Female Sociologists

The Second Forum for Female Sociologists was held in Nanjing University, Xianlin Campus on the 25th of November, after a four-year break, co-hosted by the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Zijin Media Think Tank.

Renowned female sociologists attended the forum from prestigious institutes and key universities, including Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, Fudan University, Nanjing University and so on. They shared their personal experiences and their reflections on the state and family. The whole forum fell into five panel sessions: 1) Family, Gender & Politics; 2) State, Society & Citizen; 3) Intergeneration, Conflicts & Recognition; 4) Culture, History & Memories; and 5) Group, Welfare & Policy.

Professor Yang Zhong, the Standing Vice Secretary of Nanjing University, delivered the opening remark. In his speech, he pointed out that now it was the prime era for the development of sociology. As female sociologists were inherently sensitive and attentive to humanity, they usually looked at the social problems from their unique perspective. He encouraged the female scholars to shoulder the responsibility and give their advice on the improvement of our society.

In the guest speech, Professor Li Youmei, President of Chinese Sociological Association, stated the mission of sociology in the context of the transforming China. On the one hand, sociologists need to find the regular patterns to achieve the maximum benefits for all groups. On the other hand, sociologists need to unveil the underlying logic of the socialist modernization with Chinese characteristics. She hoped Chinese female sociologists would make more contribution to the development of sociology in China.

Professor Zhou Xiaohong, Director of Zijin Media Think Tank, explained the four reasons why the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences held the forum again. In short, the world is basically comprised of males and females. Females have their unique point of view. As professional scholars, they make important contribution to the academic studies. And successful female sociologists make a good example for young women to learn about the society and devote themselves to the society.

After the opening ceremony, Professor Yang Zhong, Professor Li Youmei and Professor Zhou Xiaohong presented the green rose brooches to the 24 female attendees.


Session I : Family, Gender & Politics

Research fellow from the Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Sociology, Wu Xiaoying delivered a theme speech entitled “Family Studies and Political Correctness”. She proposed to look at the family issues from the individual layer as well as the state and social layer. Family studies attuned to the situations of China were different from those in the West. Politics was an important element in the studies of family. Only when state was taken into consideration could family studies take a full wing in China.

Professor Tong Xin responded to the argument on gender in the sociological academic circle in her theme speech “Gender-different Production of Knowledge”. She attempted to reveal some stereotypes about females’ academic capability. The origin and development of gender discrimination was combed. She finally proposed the solutions that were cultural consciousness, cultural dialogue and sharing weal and woe.

Research fellow from the Institute of Sociology, Shanghai Academy of Sociology, Xu Anqi explored the characteristics and path of the changes of marriage in China, and assessed the applicability of leading Western family theories in China. She argued that there was a difference in modernization, population policy, transformation mode, laws, etc., between China and the West. The formation, interaction and disintegration of Chinese people’s intimacy were subject to multiple social norms. Such post-modern traits as de-traditionalization and de-institutionalization were far away from Chinese state quo. The changes of marriage in China were more of continuation and gradual variation.

Professor Ji Yingchun argued that in the transforming China, modernity and tradition were intertwined in Chinese marriage and she called it the mosaic modernity. The mosaic modernity was the inter-dependence between generations and gender model played a role in this relationship.

Associate Professor Huang Yingying from Renmin University of China took special interest in story-telling in the academic research, how to interpret the told and untold, how to promote story-telling, and how to create possible narrative space and social conditions. She proposed a critical framework from the three perspectives mentioned above.

Professor Zhang Wenhong made comments on the first session. He summarized all the speeches and encouraged more male sociologists to participate into the fields in which their female counterparts took particular interest, so that the two sexes could establish a partnership to promote the development of sociology in China.

Session II : State, Society & Citizen

Professor He Yanling from Sun Yat-sen University discussed family issues from the angles of social governance, state governance and public governance. From fragmental issues such as left-over children, divorcee underdogs, children’s abuse, a relatively structural explanation could be found, and that was the absence of family in the governance. In the planning of governance in the future, what we need to do was to allow the majority to construct policies and to let the minority to improve the policies and to let the muted be heard.

Professor Min Xueqin from Nanjing University took Gulou District and Qixia District as an example and presented the undergoing mode of online governance on the grassroots level from three dimensions. First of all, online governance was starting a real revolution. Secondly, the experimental mobile phone community and Cloud-negotiation both pictured the online governance’s characteristic of the participation and negotiation between multiple agents at the same time. Thirdly, online governance was rebuilding the community society and pushing the unilateral administration to multilateral governance.

Professor Deng Yanhua from Nanjing University pointed out in her speech that political efficacy could be divided into exterior political efficacy and interior political efficacy. In her research, she found that the expansion of area could influence social stability. Thus, she proposed that online governance and increasing the separation of power could alleviate the latent social tension caused by population gathering.

Associate Professor Ji Yingying from Shanghai University focused on the foundation of multiple dynamics of Chinese public participation. The past studies involved the transformation of marketization, the partisan state governance system, and the organization of social forces. The three forces were in a relative relation. She found that partisan state governance system still played a leading role in the public participation.

Professor Zhao Dingxin from Zhejiang University said that each study had room for improvement and gave pertinent advice.

Session III : Intergeneration, Conflicts & Recognition

Professor Zheng Li from Harbin Engineering University shared her thoughts on the secularization theory, the religious economies model, the neo-secularization theory and Beck’s neo-religiosity in the context of self-reflective modernization. She held the idea that many theoretic issues should be taken into consideration. Through Berger’s comparison of religion in Europe and in America, Professor Zheng Li found that secularization theory was more suitable to Europe, while religious economies model was fitter for America. But neither were practicable to the whole world. She proposed that we need to give serious thoughts on how to manage the relation between Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism, how to treat western religions, and how to satisfy Chinese needs for spirituality.

Professor Guan Jian from Nankai University delivered the theme speech of Blocking the Inter-generational Reproduction of Poverty. She discussed the family transmission mechanism in the inter-generational reproduction of poverty. She highlighted that mothers played an important intermediary role in affecting the inter-generational reproduction of poverty and blocking the transmission of poverty. She analysed the pre-determining function and post-affecting function of mothers in blocking the inter-generational transmission of poverty. Finally, she proposed two policy suggestions: one was to pay attention to the compensatory function of mothers when children were zero to six years old or even zero to three years old; two was to help mother get reemployment and solve the problems that they were facing.

Shen Yifei, associate professor of Fudan University, shared her studies on the equality logic of inheritance settlement. She found that in terms of interest, there were little difference in viewpoint or logic between generations. She admitted that cultural difference existed between generations. But in the respect of interest, she wondered if difference really existed. Furthermore, she questioned the rigid logic that set generational difference as the prerequisite in analyzing inter-generational relationship. And she encouraged to reconsider the plurality between generations and conduct cross-analysis on inter-generational relationship.

Professor Zhou Xiaohong gave comments on the speeches in the third section. In regard of Professor Zheng’s study, he reminded that two questions deserved ponderence: one was what the reasons behind religious change were; two was what the state Chinese religion was. Talking about Professor Guan Jian’s study, he pointed out how mothers in impoverished families stimulated children’s interest, how to make the poor mothers have the abilities of women in middle-income families. He believed that the most important thing was to transform poor women into modern women. Concerning Shen Yifei’s study, Professor Zhou suggested that interest factors should be controlled to study men’s principle of action.

Section IX: Culture, History & Memories

Professor Chen Yingfang from Shanghai Jiao Tong University shared her thoughts on the ordinary people in the backdrop of social transformation. She found that local government had become the main body to give power. And the main criteria for power was a person’s social value. A person need to demonstrate his or her value to the city where he or she lives. In this background, men are classified as useful and useless or less useful. When the workforce was liberated, the value of a person as a man was not recognized in China. As the economy soars, the empowerment mechanism severely lagged behind.

Professor Zhou Yi from Shanghai Jiao Tong University shared her research on square dance. She employed the Birmingham School’s principle as the framework. She found that square dance was a product of collectivism and one-child policy. It was a unique subculture to people who were born from the 1950s to 1960s.

Professor Zhou Haiyan from Nanjing University delivered a theme speech on journalism. She found newspaper reports could shape an intelligible new state political order from the visible space, the visible time and the show of power theatre, which made the people put the state policies into action.

Associate Professor Sun Yanfei from Zhejiang University mainly studied the pre-modern empires’ tolerance to religions other than state religion. She classified empires into six echelons. She believed that the nature of the state religion, the comparison between state power and religion’s power, and the state’s controlling power all affected the empires’ tolerance to religions.

Associate Editor Liu Yaqiu shared her recent thinking on memory studies. She found that existing studies were mainly conducted from the perspective of power. But she held the idea that memory studies should be more fundamental and took a society-culture outlook.

Professor Chen Yunsong made comments on each speech in the fourth section.

Section V: Group, Welfare & Policy

Professor Peng Huaming from Nanjing University shared her analysis of the attitude of four underprivileged groups, i.e., the children, the seniors, the disabled and the migrant workers, towards welfare responsibilities. Through rigid sampling and statistical analysis, she found that these four groups supported that the government should take its due responsibility, but they also had some differences. Professor Peng planned to conduct an international study of welfare issues so as to find the problem with Chinese welfare attitude and welfare system.
 Associate Professor Pei Yuxin stated that women had many troubles and a lot of anxiety in terms of sex. In respond to addressing these problems, she set up a sex therapy workshop to reshape the workshop members in the recognition of sex. Women were always worried about their attraction to their partners in sex, which made them overlook their own role as the subject in sex and unable to enjoy the sensual pleasure. Through the workshop the members learned how to express themselves and find an equal position in the sex.

Professor Jin Yihong from Nanjing Normal University restudied the “farming and weaving economy” in Jiangcun, which Fei Xiaotong saw as an exploited and broken village where farmers suffered from the difficulty of survival and continuing the family line. Female played a decisive role in both respects. She showed a feminine Jiangcun where women had made great contribution in the process of production and reproduction.

Professor Cheng Boqing made comments on the preceding speeches. He agreed with what Professor Peng shared. And he regarded Professor Shen’s study as an daring exploration. Professor Jin Yihong’s study was truly eye-widening.


Professor Wen Jun from East China Normal University praised this forum in his closing remarks. He referred to the name of this forum that it didn’t reinforce the difference between male sociologists and female sociologists. And in our society without either gender, the daily life and academic researches would be dull and boring. Professor Cheng Boqing also spoke highly of this event. This forum showed the work and contribution female sociologists made and stimulate the society to reflect and contemplate more new problems.