Abstract - Rural Community, Group Identity and Martial Arts Social Foundation of Meihuaquan
Background. Meihuaquan has not only survived four successive dynasties as well as wars and other social upheavals, but it is, in fact, enjoying revitalization against the background of urbanization.
Aim. What is the social foundation of the revival of Meihuaquan in rural of north China? The focus of this paper is how this revival is supported by social institutions, especially the group identity of Meihuaquan.
Method. The methods of this article include participant-observation fieldwork, semi-structured interviews and questionnaire survey.
Results. (1) Meihuaquan has survived four successive dynasties as well as wars and other social upheavals. (2) From 2006 the political environment has nurtured Meihuaquan’s survival and development. Now, it is enjoying a revival. (3) It is a means to enrich personal, social and spiritual life of local people. (4) Meihuaquan serves as a means of identity formation not only for males but also for females. (5) Young adults have similar enthusiasm concerning Meihuaquan to their seniors. (6) Cultural awareness of educated young people is helpful for the development of Meihuaquan.
Conclusions. The fundamental reason for Meihuaquan’s revival is that it cultivated the sense of group identity for local people in northern China. This kind of group identity is not only about social relationships, but also spiritual life; not only accepted by males, but also recognized by females; not only felt by older people, but also supported by the younger generation; not only favored by peasants, but also practiced by college students. In short, Meihuaquan established the identity of its members, local people and government by many strategies, and kept the balance between the three factions.