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Between State and Service Industry: group and collective weddings in Communist Shanghai, 1949-56

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-68
Number of pages21
JournalTwentieth Century China
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2014
DOIs
Accepted/In press22 Aug 2014
E-pub ahead of print17 Dec 2014
PublishedJan 2015

King's Authors

Abstract

Group weddings have commonly been associated with Republican China under Guomindang rule. Wedding ceremonies involving multiple couples, however, continued to be held in the People’s Republic of China throughout the 1950s and after. During the early 1950s, Shanghai’s commercial group wedding agencies marketed their services to local couples, and district governments organized what they termed “collective weddings,” hoping that couples would be more amenable to state marriage registration if they could participate in a ceremony. In 1956, the municipal government considered instituting a unified collective ceremony across Shanghai. By examining meeting minutes, letter exchanges, and records of internal government and business discussions, this article explores entrepreneurial and governmental attempts to standardize Shanghai’s group and collective weddings. Although commercial group weddings and state collective ceremonies served different purposes, their proponents faced similar organizational difficulties in the search for a standardized, economical wedding ceremony befitting “New China.”

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