Modern Moralities? Children and Social Change in Vietnam

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:42 AM
Room: Booth 64
Oral Presentation
Virginia MORROW , Department of International Development, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
This paper explores the effects of ‘modernity’ on children’s lives and on their aspirations in Vietnam. It draws on qualitative research undertaken with children and their parents as part of Young Lives, a longitudinal study of children growing up in four developing countries (www.younglives.org.uk). The paper explores how social, political and economic changes are affecting social realities, moralities and norms, especially in relation to intergenerational relationships between grandparents/parents, and children. For example, there is clearly a rapid process of marketization taking place, with consumer durables like mobile phones and the internet becoming widely available. At the same time children describe clearly the centrality of family relationships, and especially reciprocity in the form of caring for parents, siblings, grandparents, and an expectation of filial duty by parents. Thus, three sets of values are colliding, (a) there is a combination of Confucian notions of filial duty combined with Communist values relating to the importance of reciprocity in relationships, yet (b) there is State-led concern about ‘social evils’ affecting children and youth by parents (while these are nearly universal, they seem particularly marked in Vietnam) and (c) new technologies that are perceived as bringing risks to children and young people. Children themselves are aware of shifting moralities. They perceive there to be corruption among adults – some teachers, and employers - and express concern about unfairness and injustice. The paper explores whether there are ‘new’ moralities emerging, and describes how parents and children are managing these processes.