The family care of Chinese old people : a study of Chinese communities in London
This research examines the financial relationships between Chinese older people and their family, the living arrangements of older people, the needs for care and the provision of care in Hong Kong as well as in London. It points out the myth of the traditional Chinese extended family which existed only among the gentry and the elites and the mistake which relates the provision of care to the existence and prevalence of the Chinese extended family. It is argued that westernisation and industrialisation have not washed away the caring capacity of the Chinese family. The research showed that Chinese old people in the two places maintained an active financial relationship with their children, and the majority still lived with their families, which reflected not so much an absence of alternative but a matter of preference. Help in such aspects as personal care, household maintenance and social survival continued to be provided by the family. However, the research also showed that a new pattern of relationships between Chinese old people and their children and grandchildren have emerged, and a unique pattern in the division of labour in care within the family has also been developed. It is argued that the basis of care in the Chinese context has undergone reconstruction. Five interlinked factors are important the reciprocal contributions of the Chinese old people and the family members; the affective compatibility between the old people and the helpers; the obligatory compatibility between the two parties; and the sanction of normative expectations. All these conditions are subject to the intervention of state policies. The reconstruction of the basis of care showed that the classical Chinese thesis which suggested that being old must be respected could no longer be upheld. Instead, the state has, through various social policies, shaped and sustain the help seeking and provision of the old people and their families.