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Generational transformation of Chinese families: A survey of the Republic period

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image of Frontiers of History in China

Family division is the way of reproduction of Chinese families and the starting point of building new families. Reasons of family division in the Republic of China include bad terms among sisters-in-law, among brothers, between father and sons, between mother-in-law and daughters-in-law, or working outside. There are three patterns of family division: one-time thorough division, serial division, and special types of division. The circumstances of family division include: inheritance while parents are alive or after their death; equal inheritance among brothers hosted by their uncle (mother’s brother), inheritance rights attributed to the eldest son or grandson, and special principles of property distribution. The rite of family division is quite solemn; documents of family division definitely need to be made with specific regulations. There are three ways of supporting for the eldly, among which leaving some land to parents is popularly adopted in rural China during the Republic period.


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