‘Arranged’ marriages in China: past and present

Dr Pan Wang2

2UNSW, Sydney, Australia,

The paper investigates how arranged marriages have evolved and adapted to changing social and economic settings in different historical periods. It begins by providing the background to arranged marriages in traditional China. It then explores the Republic period, showing arranged marriages had solid roots in China despite being ‘punched’ by waves of modern culture and feminism introduced from the West. This is followed by the analysis of the interplay between arranged marriages and self-choice marriages from the 1950s to late 1970s. This reveals the complexities and perplexities of the concept of ‘arrangedness’ under the reign of the CCP. The last section analyses arranged marriages from the late 1970s to the present. It shows arranged marriages have been resurrected and are being reinvented by the market economy and remodelled by modern technology. The paper argues that arranged marriages have not been deinstitutionalized by modern forces but are being re-institutionalised by them instead.


Dr. Pan Wang is Senior Lecturer in Chinese and Asian Studies, University of New South Wales. She is the author of the book Love and Marriage in Globalizing China (Abingdon: Routledge 2015). Her research focuses on gender, media, and family and marriage studies in China. Her email is Pan.wang@unsw.edu.au.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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