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Title: Sustaining family life in rural China : reinterpreting filial piety in migrant Chinese families
Author: Mai, Dan T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 1574
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This study explores the changing nature of filial piety in contemporary society in rural China. With the economic, social and political upheavals that followed the Revolution, can 'great peace under heaven' still be found for the rural Chinese family as in the traditional Confucian proverb,"make yourself useful, look after your family, look after your country, and all is peaceful under heaven"? This study explores this question, in terms not so much of financial prosperity, but of non-tangible cultural values of filial piety, changing familial and gender roles, and economic migration. In particular, it examines how macro level changes in economic, social and demographic policies have affected family life in rural China. The primary policies examined were collectivisation, the hukou registration system, marketization, and the One-Child policy. Ethnographic interviews reveal how migration has affected rural family structures beyond the usual quantifiable economic measures. Using the village of Meijia, Sichuan province, as a paradigmatic sample of family, where members have moved to work in the cities, leaving their children behind with the grandparents, the study demonstrates how migration and modernization are reshaping familial roles, changing filial expectations, reshuffling notions of care-taking, and transforming traditional views on the value of daughters and daughters-in-law. The study concludes that the choices families make around migration, child-rearing and elder-care cannot be fully explained by either an income diversification model or a survival model, but rather through notions of filial piety. Yet the concept of filial piety itself is changing, particularly in relation to gender and perceptions about the worth of daughters and the mother/ daughter-in-law relationship. Understanding these new family dynamics will be important for both policy planners and economic analysts.
Supervisor: Smith, Teresa; Jaschok, Maria; Murphy, Rachel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Asia ; Social Sciences ; Ethnographic practices ; Migration ; Transition economics ; Political economy of markets and states ; Livelihoods (refugees) ; Return and reintegration ; Local Government ; Social policy & social work ; Demography and population ageing ; Education ; Evaluation of social policies,programmes and practice ; Families,children and childcare ; Health and health policy ; Poverty ; Social disadvantage ; Social Inequality ; Welfare state reform and change ; Sociology ; Children and youth ; Ageing ; Families ; Gender ; Households ; Intergenerational relationships ; Older persons ; Population ; Pensions ; Social mobility ; Women ; China ; Elderly Well-being ; Ethnography ; Filial Care ; Filial Piety ; Hukou Registration ; Left-behind ; Migrant Labor ; One China Policy ; Rural Education ; Rural-Urban Divides ; Sichuan Province