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In examining family relations in contemporary China the article reports the findings of an empirical investigation, which are discussed in terms of recent accounts in the specialist literature. While the individualization thesis suggests that the bonds between family members are diminishing and that family obligations are similarly less significant than they used to be, it is shown here that family bonds and obligations remain strong, even though the grounds on which they are performed and the attitudes and emotions associated with them have undergone change since China’s marketization from the 1980s. The individualization thesis neglects the process of reinterpretation and re-negotiation of filial obligation, and fails to appreciate that modification of filial behaviour is initiated not only by the younger generation but also by the older. The article shows that contemporary filial relations are less concerned with authority, and more directed to financial and emotional support for parents, and from parents to children both adult and dependent.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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