The classic model of Chinese kinship organization, with its complementary emphases on patrilineality, patrilocality, and patriarchy, continues as a framework for research on Chinese social organization despite accumulating evidence of alternative models or of disjunctures within the elite model. This model has come under critical scrutiny from a variety of perspectives, most notably anthropologically informed historical research (Watson 1982; Watson 1985) that has led to a questioning of the lineage model (Freedman 1965) and field-based research that has drawn attention to the prevalence of uxorilocal and “small daughter-in-law” (tongyangxi) marriage and to the nurturing of uterine families (Wolf and Huang 1980; Wolf 1972). My purpose is to contribute to this reassessment with a discussion of customary practices of postmarital dual residence for women and continuing ties between married women and their natal families. These practices and ties cannot be accounted for within the framework of the structural-functionalist model and require an adaptation of practiceoriented theory. This may illuminate the specific structuring patterns and disjunctures described below as well as suggest possibly fruitful lines of analysis for other societies in which lineages are salient. The contribution of this article is to identify and explore a significant dimension of structuring practices in informal kinship relations in rural China.

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