Upwardly mobile but ...

from Press News, posted 08/14/2014 - 15:59

Just received today are our first copies of Catherine Earl’s absorbing study of upwardly mobile young women in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam’s New Middle Classes explores the social consequences of the massive industrialization and urbanization that followed the doi moi reforms of the late 1980s. It focuses on young women graduates who have moved to the cities to better themselves, an ambition that is achievable – so long as they remain single.

And there’s the rub. As they enter their 30s, Vietnamese women face increasing pressure to marry, as the author recounts in an extract from the book appearing here.

That needn’t be a problem, says Oscar Salemink, a leading Dutch scholar working on Vietnam and now located at Copenhagen University. When presented with a copy of the book earlier today, he remarked somewhat flippantly, “The trick is to marry but get divorced within the month. Then you are free.”

Judging by the cases recounted by Catherine Earl (which cover much more than the marriage issue, by the way), it is not always quite that simple.


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