Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Perceiving and Deflecting Everyday Poverty-Related Shame: Evidence from 35 Female Marriage Migrants in Rural China

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This research examines how poverty is perceived and deflected by a group of female cross-provincial marriage migrants in contemporary rural China. It presents accounts of poverty-related shame in everyday village life. Known as migrant wives, respondents in this research have experienced both absolute and relative poverty over the course of their lives. The personal lament of insufficiency and the social discourse of poverty respectively underpin internal and external poverty-related shame. Correspondingly, migrant wives employ strategies of recounting misery and redefining identity to normalise their poverty and their stigmatised social image, hoping to mitigate the psychological and social impacts of shame. This research contributes an empirical analysis to our understanding about the origin, manifestation, and impact of povertyrelated shame, which is usually a neglected consideration in poverty studies. It also sheds light on the gender-specified risks, burdens, and social expectation that affect migrant wives’ perception and experience of poverty.

Keywords:  marriage migration; migrant wives; poverty; poverty-related shame; rural China



© Guanli Zhang. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.