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Love, money and ethnicity: money’s role in polygamous marriages among the Hui in Northwest China

Xuan NIU (Research Centre of Social Sciences, Qinghai University, Xining, China)

Social Transformations in Chinese Societies

ISSN: 1871-2673

Article publication date: 1 July 2020

Issue publication date: 3 August 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to understand the role that money plays in polygamous marriages among the Hui ethnic group in Northwest China.

Design/methodology/approach

This study conducted in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and observations based on snowball sampling of individuals who voluntarily agreed to participate from June to December 2010, and during the summer of 2011, in Qinghai in Northwest China. Follow-up interviews and observations were conducted in 2015.

Findings

This study examines how love and money intersect and work together to sustain the participants’ polygamous marriages. The study concludes that material desires unite love with money to make love consumable. With the help of money, love between the sexes is transformed into desirable consumption through economic activities associated with leisure, gift giving and religious beliefs to articulate individualism

Originality/value

This study is the first to explore money’s role in the experience of polygamy among the Hui ethnic group in China.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

I would like to gratefully acknowledge Professor Karen A Joe Laidler, my PhD supervisor, in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong, for her critical guidance and assistance. I would also like to thank my PhD committee members, Professor Lisa Rofel in the Department of Anthropology at University of California, Maggy S. Y. Lee and David A. Palmer, in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong, for their constructive comments. Many thanks to the faculty and mentors of the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong, especially to professor Benjamin Leung, Thomas W. P. Wong, Børge Bakken, and, Li-Fung Cho for their encouragement.

Citation

NIU, X. (2021), "Love, money and ethnicity: money’s role in polygamous marriages among the Hui in Northwest China", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 39-51. https://doi.org/10.1108/STICS-11-2018-0017

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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