HKU Data Repository

File(s) under permanent embargo

Reason: These interview scripts contain personal identifier and are about the personal experience of the interviewees. To protect their privacy and maintain confidentiality, these files are under embargo.

Supporting data for “Family and Work of Middle-Class Women with Two Children under the Universal Two-Child Policy in Urban China ”

posted on 2022-09-07, 08:36 authored by Yixi ChenYixi Chen


The dataset is a file of the raw interview scripts with my interviewees during the fieldwork conducted between 2021.6 to 2022.2. 

This thesis investigates how urban middle-class working women with two children make sense of work, childcare, and self under the universal two-child policy of China. This thesis also explores how the idea of individual and family interact in these women's construction of a sense of self.  On January 1st, 2016, the one-child policy was replaced by the universal two-child policy, under which all married couples in China are allowed to have two children. In the scholarships of motherhood, it is widely documented across cultures that it is a site of patriarchal oppression where women are expected to meet the unrealistic ideal of intensive mothering to be a good mother, suffer from the motherhood wage penalty and face more work-family conflict than fathers. Emprical studies of China also came to similar conclusions and such findings are not only widely regonized in scholarship but is also widespread in popular discourse in China. Despite that marriage and having children is still universal for the generation of the research target, women born in the 1970s and 1980s, due to compounding influence fo the one-child policy, increasing financial burden of raising a child etcs, having only one child has become widely acceptable and normal. Given this context, this study intend to investigate how these middle-class women, who are relatively empowered and resourceful, come to a decision that is seemingly against their own interest. Moreover, unlike in the west where the issue of childbearing and childcaring is mainly an issue of the conjugal couple and the gender realtions is at the center of the discussion, in China, extended family, especially grandparents also play a role in both the decision making process and the subsequent childcare arrangement. Therefore, to study the second-time mothers’ childcare and work experiences in contemporary urban China, we also need to situate them, as individuals, in their family. To investigate how they make sense of childcare and work is also to understand the tension between individual and family. By interviewing twenty-one parents from middle-class family in Guangzhou with a second child under six years old, this study finds that these urban working women with two children consider themselves as an individual unit and full-time paid employment is something that cannot be given up since it is the means of securing that independent self . However, they did not prioritize their personal interest to that of other family members, especially the elder child and thus the decision of having a second child is mainly for the sake of the elder child. Moreover, grandparents played an essential role to provide a childcare safety net, without which, these urban working women would not be able to work full-time and maintain the independent self as they defined it. The portrayal of these women’s experiences reflected the individualization process in China where people are indivdualized without individualism, and family are evoked as strategy to achieve personal as well as family goals. The findings of this study contributs to theories of motherhood by adding an intergenerational perspective to the existing gender perspective and also contributes to the studies of family by understanding the relation and interaction between individual and family in thse women’s construction of sense of self in the context of contemporary China.