Gender, Household and State in Post-Revolutionary Vietnam

Routledge
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This book examines gender in post-revolutionary Vietnam, focusing on gender relations in the family and state since the onset of economic reform in 1986. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources (including surveys, interviews, and responses to film screenings), Jayne Werner demonstrates that despite the formal institution of public gender equality in Vietnam, in practice women do not hold a great deal of power, continuing to defer to men in both the family and the wider community. Contrary to conventional analyses equating liberalisation and decentralisation with a reduced role for the state over social relations, this book argues that gender relations continued to bear the imprint of state gender policies and discourses in the post-socialist state. While the household remained a highly statist sphere, the book also shows that the unequal status of men and women in the family was based on kinship ties that provided the underlying structure of the family and (contrary to resource theory) depended less on their economic contribution than on family norms and conceptions of proper gendered behaviour. Werner’s analysis explores the ways in which the Doi Moi state utilised constructions of gender to advance its own interests, just as the communist revolutionary regime had earlier used gender as a key strategic component of post-colonial government. Thus this book makes an important and original contribution to the study of gender in post-socialist countries.
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About the author

Jayne Werner is based at Long Island University, where she is Professor Emerita of Political Science, and she is also a Research Scholar in the Southern Asian Institute at Columbia University, USA. She has written extensively on gender relations and Vietnam, and her books include The Vietnam War: Vietnamese and American Perspectives (edited with Luu Doan Huynh), and Sources of Vietnamese Tradition (edited with John Whitmore and George Dutton, forthcoming).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Jan 21, 2009
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Pages
198
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ISBN
9781134057016
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
Social Science / Gender Studies
Social Science / General
Social Science / Regional Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Since Vietnam introduced economic reforms in the mid-1980s, domestic service has become an established sector of the labour market, and domestic workers have become indispensable to urban life in the rapidly changing country. This book analyzes the ways in which the practices and discourses of domestic service serve to forge and contest emerging class identities in post-reform Vietnam. Drawing on a rich and diverse range of qualitative data, including ethnographies, interviews, and narratives, it shows that such practices and discourses are rooted in cultural notions of gender and rural-urban difference and enduring socialist structures of feeling, which, in turn, clash with the realities of growing differentiation. Domestic workers’ experiences reveal negotiations with class boundaries actively set by the urban middle class, who seek distinction through emerging notions and practices of domesticity. These boundaries are nevertheless riddled with gender and class anxiety on the side of the latter, partly because of the very struggles and contestations of the domestic workers. More broadly, Minh T. N. Nguyen links the often invisible intimate dynamics of class formation in the domestic sphere with wider political economic processes in a post-socialist country embarking on marketization while retaining the political control of a party-state.

As a pioneering ethnographic study of domestic service in Vietnam today, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of Southeast Asian culture & society, social anthropology, gender studies, human geography and development studies.

Sources of Vietnamese Tradition provides an essential guide to two thousand years of Vietnamese history and a comprehensive overview of the society and state of Vietnam. Strategic selections illuminate key figures, issues, and events while building a thematic portrait of the country's developing territory, politics, culture, and relations with neighbors. The volume showcases Vietnam's remarkable independence in the face of Chinese and other external pressures and respects the complexity of the Vietnamese experience both past and present.

The anthology begins with selections that cover more than a millennium of Chinese dominance over Vietnam (111 B.C.E.–939 C.E.) and follows with texts that illuminate four centuries of independence ensured by the Ly, Tran, and Ho dynasties (1009–1407). The earlier cultivation of Buddhism and Southeast Asian political practices by the monarchy gave way to two centuries of Confucian influence and bureaucratic governance (1407–1600), based on Chinese models, and three centuries of political competition between the north and the south, resolving in the latter's favor (1600–1885). Concluding with the colonial era and the modern age, the volume recounts the ravages of war and the creation of a united, independent Vietnam in 1975. Each chapter features readings that reveal the views, customs, outside influences on, and religious and philosophical beliefs of a rapidly changing people and culture. Descriptions of land, society, economy, and governance underscore the role of the past in the formation of contemporary Vietnam and its relationships with neighboring countries and the West.

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