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Velvet Bonds: The Chinese Family

By Michael Saso, with statistic analysis by Nariko Akimoto
In print
Published for New Life Center (aka Sino-Asia Foundation) by the University of Hawaii Press, 1999
ISBN 1-929431-00-7
Available for purchase.

17 plus 141 pages. An analysis of 4.500 family Registers, called Koseki in Japanese, Huji in Chinese, the study uses the analytical method developed by Arthur Wolf at Stanford. The study shows incredible variations in Chinese family structure.

Personal stories from Mainland, Taiwan, HK, and Ethnic minority families , and Thematic Apperceptive tests showing widely different cultural values.

Copious footnotes, charts, and illustrations.
A practical textbook for Anthropology courses on China.

One thought on “Velvet Bonds: The Chinese Family

  1. Study guide:

    Velvet Bonds, The Chinese Family, by Prof. Michael Saso, PhD , (published for the Sino-Asian Institute of America, 501c-3, formerly “New Life Center, Carmel” by the University of Hawaii Press), represents 36 years of NSF grant and private research funded study of the Chinese Family, in specific sites on Taiwan, and mainland China, as stated from pp. ix to xvii in the introduction,

    Velvet Bonds; an outline: Chapter One contrasts local, official, scholarly, and foreign views of the Chinese family and its value system. An exacting statistical study of 4500 families, over a period of 100 years, (1870 to 1970), is found in Ch. 6, which provides a structural and sociological basis for studying the traditional Chinese family system, after reading case studies made throughout modern China (Chapters 2-5). Ch. 7 proposes a structural theory for the Chinese family based on the household registers (“hu-ji” 户籍) analyzed in Ch. 6, contrasting these to official “Confucian” views of the ideal family. Ch. 8 concludes the study by comparing the most frequently expressed value words found in Thematic-Aperceptive tests in China, with statistics found in Japan, SE Asia, and the US. Each chapter was formulated and written after lengthy graduate seminar discussion.

    Chapter Two analyzes 5 Chinese families, and every recorded event recorded in their household registers, ousehild Registers,hwhwho who lived in Hsinchu city between 1870 and 1944. A total of 37 formal terms, used in Mandarin, Minnan Dialect, and Japanese to describe the changes that occurred within the family, are used and defined in this chapter.

    Chapter Three describes the intimate happenings within 5 families who lived in Beijing, and neighboring provinces, between the 1930’s the Japanese Occupation, and modern day China.

    Chapter Four describes the inner workings of four minority families, from Tibet, the Aini – Hani culture of southern Yunnan, the Muosuo matriarchy of north Yunnan, and an Islamic family of Xining city, northwest China. Though linguistically and culturally quite distinct form the Han Chinese value system, the family is always of central value and importance throughout greater China.

    Chapter Five defines the basic family structure terms needed to study and understand the “extended,” (married brothers and sisters under one roof), and “grand” (grandparents present with married childrens’ families. Chapter Six then analyzes the statistics obtained from the 100 year study of Chinese family registers, following the terminology and strict methodology developed by Professors Arthur Wolf and Huang Chieh-san at Stanford University. The statistical analyses, and relationship between form of marriage (major, minor, uxorilocal, and concubine) were computed by the late Nariko Akimoto, trained by Arthur Wolf and Huang Chieh-san, for this study. Chapter Seven presents the same data in easy to read bar codes, in modern computer based sociological format.

    Chapter Eight uses the analytical methods of social psychology, in the form of an “Thematic-Aperceptive Test” to show the vast differences in social values that separate the cultures of east and southeast Asia, and the United States. In all, over 1100 subjects took this test, over a sixteen year period, between 1974 and 1990. The study concludes with the suggestion that the strength of China’s 5000 + year old cultures lies in the emphasis and value it places on the family system, and the security assured to all members throughout life.

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