Continuity and Transformation: Family Relations and Obligation in China

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Xiaoying QI, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Since the early 1980s, as a strategy to advance its previously planned economy to a more market-driven economy, the Chinese government relaxed its control of population movements so that industry, of which there is now a great deal, could have a flexible labour supply. One result of this change is the greatest movement of population in China since 1949 when the communist party came to power, and possibly globally. Enormous numbers of people are moving from inland regions to coastal areas, from rural settings to urban, and from less developed to more developed economic zones. These so-called ‘migrants’ form an entirely new social category, ‘liudong renkou’ or ‘floating population’. A large body of literature focuses on the young migrant workers who move from rural areas to cities in search of employment, and, correspondingly, the women, children and the elderly who remain in the villages and small towns, the so-called ‘left-behind’. This ‘left-behind’ group draws the attention of researchers and also the media. The present paper is to fill a gap examining an emergence of grandparents who are not ‘left behind’ but join their migrant adult children to provide child care. The paper will show that under conditions of economic, social and cultural change family obligation in China continues to play an important role and at the same time that the conventions associated with the relevant expectations, attitudes and emotions have undergone significant change.