Self-publishing a book is an exciting undertaking. Because we understand the dedication that is required to write a quality book, we like to feature our top authors each week so that you can get to know a little bit more about them and their book. This week, we are featuring Jui-shan Chang’s Making a Meal of It.
In her latest book, self-publishing Outskirts Press author, Jui-shan Chang, reveals different embedded meanings of sex for people in Chinese and Western cultural settings: the Chinese primarily understand sex as a meal of sustenanc; while Westerners see sex as a game; for individual recognition, validation and self-completion.
This book frames sex within issues of self-identity, manhood/womanhood, marriage and family under the common impacts of modernization in contemporary Chinese societies (Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China) which have been through different systems of political economy and colonial experience; as well as between the Chinese and Western societies that have been grounded in differing civilizations.
Despite decades of loosening premarital sexual mores in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which appear to converge with Western values, Chang’s comprehensive study finds that there is still a fundamental difference in the embedded meanings of sex between these two cultures. Her cross-cultural, sociological approach has been able to locate and understand Chinese and Western sexual practices at a more significant level: sexual practices may appear the same but don’t necessarily mean the same in different cultural settings.
For the Chinese, sex is not who you are, but what you do, especially in relation to familial duties. In the West, however, Chang has found that sex is not what you do, but is rather who you are. These insights not only help explain the difference in self identity and the meaning of sex between the two cultures, they also show why the conventional Western perspective of modernization and sexual permissiveness is inadequate to understand Chinese sexuality.
Chang’s findings are based on twenty years of comparative research on the two cultures through surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews and the study of cultural artifacts. Besides providing a deeper understanding of Chinese and Western cultures, Chang’s study also shows how the “recognition” that is so closely tied to sex in contemporary Western society is crucial, as well, to an understanding of the predicaments of self and relationships.
Chang also presents to readers the innovative and therapeutically helpful notion of a trans-cultural wisdom bank that can be used as a repository of possible solutions to recurrent problems in sex and relationships faced by individual from all cultures.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jui-shan Chang holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in sociology from National Taiwan University and a Doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan. She has also undertaken specialized training in psychotherapy and couples therapy in Melbourne. She has worked as an academic for the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, the East-West Centre in Hawaii, the University of Tasmania, the University of Iowa, and the University of Melbourne. A contributor to top journals and presses around the world and an award winning author and educator, she is currently also a psychotherapist in private practice and a freelance senior research consultant in Melbourne.
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