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Zhai Dissertation Chapter 2

Zhai Dissertation Chapter 2

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Published by Kyle Schultz

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Published by: Kyle Schultz on Dec 15, 2009
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RELIGION, GENDER, AND FAMILY RELATIONS IN TAIWANbyJIEXIA ZHAI.Dissertation
Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of The University of Texas at Austinin Partial Fulfillmentof the Requirementsfor the Degree of 
Doctor of PhilosophyThe University of Texas at AustinAugust 2007
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CHAPTER 2: RELIGION AND GENDER ROLE ATTITUDES INTAIWAN
2.1 ABSTRACT
Utilizing a large scale nationally representative survey (KAP) and in-depth interviews, this studyexamines the association between religion and gender role attitudes in Taiwan. My findings showthat members of conservative religious groups such as Taiwan Protestants and the new religiousmovement Yi-Guan-Dao are more likely to view women’s work as having a negative impact onfamily life and more likely to support traditional men-as-breadwinner, women-as-home-maker gender roles. On the other hand, Catholics and secular groups tend to hold more liberal views of gender roles, especially regarding men’s participation in the house and financial contribution from both genders. I also discuss the theoretical implications of these findings.
2.2 INTRODUCTION
During the past three decades, Taiwan has transformed from an agricultural society to one of themost developed societies in East Asia. Modernization has dramatically increased women’s participation in the labor force and enrollment in mandatory education. However, scholars also notedthat the patriarchic nature of gender relations stay strong (Gallin 1982, Yu 2001, Xu and Lai 2002).The dominant household division of labor is still traditional, with the form of men-as-breadwinner and women-as-homemaker. More than half of women who have work experience before marriagewill leave the labor force because of childbirth or family obligations (Yi and Chien 1999). Theincreased acceptance and participation in work outside of the home does not bring a more egalitariangender role ideology (Yu 2001). Demographers and family scholars have paid substantial attention to
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this issue, and they suggest there may be cultural factors that help sustain these traditional gender role ideologies (Yi 2002). Yet they have not studied what these cultural factors are. Chinesetraditional culture and religion are so intimately connected. How much does religion influencegender role attitudes? Are certain religious traditions more likely to encourage traditional patriarchicrelations, while others promote more egalitarian views?Studies in the United States show that religion influences both attitudes toward and attainment of gender equality. Religion has been an important force in producing and legitimizing family ideologyin the U.S. (e.g., Wilcox 2004). These studies suggest that fundamental religious traditions are morelikely to embrace patriarchic family norms, which in turn reinforces gender inequality in family andsociety. However, most studies are limited to Judeo-Christian contexts. It is not clear whether these patterns can apply to societies where other religious traditions have been dominant or where gendeor family ideologies are different – for example in a Confucian Asian society like Taiwan.Taiwan is an ideal case for examining the association between religion and gender relations in achanging society. Taiwan has gone through tremendous modernization and urbanization during the past half century, and the religious market is also thriving. Although ritual-oriented Chinese traditionalreligions rarely produce moral ethics from their doctrines, they have reinforced traditional ChineseConfucianism orthodoxy (Yang 1967, Chiu 2006). Not only so, Taiwanese Protestant and Catholicchurches have also played an important role in modern Taiwan history, and showed distinctcharacteristics in the area of family, sexuality, political participation, and ethnic relations (Chiu 1986;Huang 1996; Rubinstein 1991). Understanding whether different religions affect gender roleideologies and why will help scholars understand the association between religion and gender andfamily life more broadly.Thus, it raises a number of interesting and unexamined questions. For example: How do Chinesereligious groups vary in their support or resistance to Chinese traditional gender ideologies? Are
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