Out to Work

Migration, Gender, and the Changing Lives of Rural Women in Contemporary China


Arianne M. Gaetano

ISBN : 978-988-8208-53-1

Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology

April 2015

184 pages, 6″ x 9″

For sale in Asia only

  • HK$195.00

Also available in Hardback HK$465.00

Out to Work is a fresh, engaging account of the lives of a group of rural Chinese women who, while still in their teens, moved from villages to Beijing to take up work as maids, office cleaners, hotel chambermaids, and schoolteachers. By pursuing new opportunities afforded by migration and strategically applying accumulated knowledge and resources, these women were able to forge better lives for themselves and their families. But as this book also makes clear, broader social inequalities persist to make these women’s futures precarious.

Arianne M. Gaetano is assistant professor of anthropology and women’s studies at Auburn University.

“This book’s unique approach offers readers an intimate look at the impact of labor migration on young women over a ten-year period. We follow Gaetano’s informants as they adapt to Beijing, visit their home villages, and move on to new jobs and postmarital homes. Gaetano does an excellent job showing how these young female migrants navigate constraints and challenges, enhancing their own and their family’s social and economic status.” —Hong Zhang, Colby College

“This fresh, highly readable book demonstrates vividly how gender norms and rural-urban inequalities not only shaped women’s identities and aspirations but also had palpable physical and material consequences for them. Yet despite the discrimination and hardship they experienced, they were able to build better lives for themselves. Gaetano’s book convincingly shows that labor migration has increased many rural women’s possibilities for exercising agency.” —Rachel Murphy, University of Oxford