Patrilineal, Bilateral, or Individualized?: Changing Intergenerational Relationships in Japan

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Reiko YAMATO, Faculty of Sociology, Kansai University, Japan
This study pays a special attention to an important dimension of intergenerational relationships for Asian families, namely patrilineal vs. bilateral relationships. The extent to which traditional patrilineal relationships weaken is closely related to modernization and women’s empowerment. Therefore this study focuses on the intersection of gendered lineage, women’s power, and family intergenerational relationships. Five hypotheses can be identified on how modernization and women’s economic resources transform family intergenerational relationships. First, a “traditional norm” hypothesis argues that relationships biased towards the husband’s parents will be maintained. Second, a “modernization” hypothesis argues that with the traditional norm weakening and women gaining economic power, bilateral relationships will prevail where adult children have almost equal relationships between the husband’s and wife’s parents. These two hypotheses presuppose that the husband and wife are one unified unit. In contrast, the third hypothesis of “individualized intergenerational relationships” argues that the husband and wife behave individualistically where the husband exchanges more support with his own parents and the wife does so with her own parents. Finally, the fourth hypothesis of “wife as a bilateral kin-keeper” argues that because individualization does not proceed to such a high extent for women, wives exchange support with the both sides of parents more often than husbands do. Analyses of data obtained from the 2008 National Family Research Japan reveal that results depends on who is a support giver. When adult children give support to their parents, the “individualized intergenerational relationships” hypothesis is supported. In contrast, when parents give support to their adult children, the “wife as a bilateral kin-keeper” hypothesis is supported regardless of wives economic resources. This suggests that Japanese adult children and their parents view intergenerational relationships in different manners. This results will be compared with the results for other East Asian countries, and the implications will be discussed.