Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
In Phase 0, I went through a process of elimination to decide which topic I would be investigating in Xizhou. Eventually, I chose love and marriage as my inquiry project topic. Through talking to the younger generations of people who are dating, engaged, or married, I will learn about the current ideology surrounding love and marriage and how it differs now from when their parents were their age. The purpose of Phase 1 is to find the general direction of my research on this topic through making questions and organizing the knowledge I already have and need to have for this project.
What knowledge do I currently possess about this topic?
My current knowledge of this topic is very limited, and I am not sure that any of this information is actually valid. I have heard that in more rural areas of China marriage is arranged for the benefit of the family, whether it be for money, power, or social status. I think this information probably has some truth behind it because I have heard the same things in a lot of different sources, but this could be wrong or outdated. I know quite a bit about love and marriage in America, so I have a pretty good basis of comparison. In America, married couples get benefits such as tax reductions and health insurance benefits. When married, people normally trust and love their partner a lot. Overall, I think one of the main reasons couples in America get married is to start building their own lives with people that they care about.
Where has this knowledge come from?
Everything I know about this topic comes from books and movies. When I was younger, I loved Disney's Mulan. In the beginning of this movie, a matchmaker and a lot of girls waiting to be arranged into a marriage are shown. I have read books that had similar information, such as Throwaway Daughter, where one girl is married to someone because of money and a higher social status.
What do I want to know about this topic?
Overall, I want to learn about how marriage currently in Xizhou differs from traditional Chinese marriages and marriages where I come from in America through this project. I want to learn about wedding traditions and the main reasons people decide to marry in this area. The way people think has been changing a lot recently, and I want to see how that change of mindset has affected how this society views love and marriage. I know that in America, society as a whole has been developing and changing rapidly. I believe this to be because of the new technology that we have allowing us an easier, quicker access to information and other people. I would like to learn if this technology has been affecting Xizhou in similar ways it has been affecting America.
I will be doing some background research to help build my leading questions for my research. The results of this research can be found in Phase 3, where I will be interpreting the information that I found.
I have created 10 major questions I have about my topic right now. These questions will give me a direction for my research when I first arrive in Xizhou. The questions are split into different sections so I can organize the aspects of love and marriage that I want to research. The italicized text under each question are the types of the answers I am hoping to find from researching the question.
Valued Qualities in a Marriage Partner and Valued Qualities in Women
1. What do people currently value in a marriage partner, and how does this differ from what people previously valued in marriage partners?
Previously, people valued money and power, but now people value a compatible personality in their marriage partner.
2. Currently, what are the main reasons people in Xizhou decide to get married?
Currently, people in Xizhou decide to get married because they found someone that they are compatible with. This usually comes from a shared sense of humor and shared points of view on a lot of topics.
3. How has the treatment and purpose of women in Xizhou changed over time?
Previously, women were meant to bear children and keep house, but now the education of women is more stressed and women are supposed to have jobs.
4. Has society begun to stress the education of women more heavily? If so, when did this change begin to occur?
The education of women began to be more heavily stressed in the 1960s because of the Cultural Revolution.
The Importance of Marriage
5. Do parents pressure their kids to find a partner? If so, about what age are the kids when their parents start pressuring them to find a partner?
Parents put a lot of stress on their kids getting married. They normally start telling their kids that they must get married and putting pressure on them finding a relationship when the child is around 12-18 years old.
6. Is marriage thought of as a necessity? If so, when did marriage begin to be so important and what was going on at that time to make marriage necessary?
Marriage used to be very important because families wanted their name and legacy to be passed down to a new generation, but marriage is losing its importance because legacies are more easily kept online now.
Children's Perspective on Marriage
7. How do teens about my age interact with other teens of the opposite sex?
Kids of both sexes go to school together, causing them to interact with each other similarly to how we do, however kids of the opposite sex are not normally close friends because parents like to keep girls away from boys until marriage.
8. What do young girls in Xizhou think about marriage and how does this differ from the perspective of a young boy?
Girls in Xizhou dream about marriage from a young age, whereas boys do not start thinking about marriage until their late teens to early 20s.
9. How has the perspective kids have on marriage changed throughout generations?
Kids in Xizhou used to think of marriage as an obligation, but now they think that they will get married to someone they love.
Traditions and Customs around Marriage
10. How have the traditions and customs surrounding love and marriage in Xizhou changed over time?
The traditions and customs surrounding marriages used to be more extravagant, whereas now marriages are more simple and understated.
Before I go to Xizhou to continue researching my project, I will need to learn more about a couple things to make sure that I will be able to make the most of my time there. I will need to learn more about the Cultural Revolutions and different time periods in Xizhou that may have caused changes in the ideologies surrounding love and marriage.
Now that I have organized my questions and current knowledge about this topic, I am ready to move onto Phase 2. In Phase 2, I will be finding helpful resources to further my research and add depth to my knowledge about this topic.