Left-behind experiences and the formation of gender division of labor: an empirical study based on fieldwork at sites of origin and destination for migrant workers
【Abstract】Based on the fieldwork conducted at sites of origin and destination for migrants in southern China, this article found that left-behind experiences led to the formation of gender division of labor. Left-behind girls are forced to participate in extensive reproductive labor, while left-behind boys indulge themselves in leisure activities. The gender division of labor between left-behind children is caused by intervention from both left-behind grandparents and migrant parents in the context of the family reconfiguration. Labor migration transfers the burden of labor reproduction to family members who are left-behind, and reconstructs gender power relations of the migrant family, defining the reproductive labor as women’s labor. This finding highlights that through the intersection of the migrant labor regime and patriarchal migrant family, left-behind experiences advance and shape the gender-based labor habits and attitudes in childhood, preparing the foundation of further gender division of labor when the younger generation becomes the new generation of migrant workers.
【Keywords】 left-behind experiences; labor system; gender power; reproduction labor; new generation of migrant worker;
. (1) Out of academic routine, names of persons and names of place in the article are anonymous. The new generation of migrant workers in the article refers to migrants workers who were born in 1980 and after with agricultural household registration. [^Back]
. (2) The number of left-behind and migrant children is large, reaching 61.02 million and 35.81 million in 2010 respectively (Duan, 2013a, 2013b). Left-behind and migrant life change alternately in different time periods, and they are in essence the same social group instead of two groups (Tan, 2011). The proportion of these children who achieved social mobility through education was limited and most of them became the new generation of migrant workers (Li, 2014; Xiong, 2015). [^Back]
. (3) The new generation of migrant workers accounted for 49.9% of all migrant workers with the total number of 118 million (Migrant Population Division of National Health and Family Planning Commission, 2013) [^Back]
. (4) See statistics in Fig. 1 of the article. [^Back]
. (5) Diaries on the work of left-behind children cited in the article of Han (2009) were all recorded by left-behind girls. In the article of Ren and Zhang, the labor of left-behind children was mainly undertaken by a 16-year-old left-behind girl who was a senior student in a junior high school, and among workers peeling shrimp in a local factory, 80% of them were children, and 95% of the children were girls. [^Back]
. (6) Intersectional analysis is the most important theoretical breakthrough in gender sociology in the U.S. since 1980s. It originated from studies on minority females and later developed into an analytical method of systematically examining the construction of complicated governing model on structural forces such as gender, race and class in a specific process and institutional environment. See review by Su (2016) for details. [^Back]
. (7) Although many migrant workers of Xibian Village worked in Shenzhen and surrounding industrial areas, their working places were scattered. Therefore, subjects investigated by the author in J Industrial Area could not correspond to them. [^Back]
. (8) The article believed that the short reunion of left-behind children to their parents’ working places during vacations is also a part of their left-behind experiences (in a broad sense). [^Back]
. (9) The stipulation is lower the law (that is, the overtime pay at weekends should be twice that of weekdays), but it is common in small factories in J Industrial Area. [^Back]
. (10) A vice headmaster of a town junior high school in Xibian Village told me that the entrance rate of this school to key senior high school was under 10% during all these years. [^Back]
. (11) The data in this study were collected in 2015, including samples of 1200 new generation of migrant workers in Beijing. [^Back]
. (12) For example, the patriarchal tradition in rural areas of northeast China was under sharp impact of communist reform and marketization. Since the end of last century, households with only one girl appeared in some villages (Yan, 2017) and the total fertility rate in this area was 0.891 in 2010 (Yin, 2013). [^Back]
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