Domestic labor, gendered intergenerational contract, and shared elderly support in rural South China

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Abstract

In rural China, care for the aged has mainly been considered as reciprocal obligations among adult sons and parents. However, recent studies have pointed to the need to examine the pattern of elderly support as a result of intra-generational negotiation in an extended family context, and the significant role of daughters-in-law in bargaining for shared parental support. This chapter examines the pattern of shared elderly care in relation to daughters-in-law’s equal access to the mother-in-law’s domestic services. It argues that old age support is a result of negotiation not only among parents and adult sons but also among daughters- and mothers-in-law based on an increasingly emphasized equity principle. It highlights the significant role of the mother-in-law’s gender-specific labor in the form of child care and household assistance as an exchange token for elderly care, and how equal access to her domestic labor besides parental property is intricately tied to the shared responsibility of elderly support among sons. It suggests that changing inheritance due to state policies on land and the family since the 1950s, gendered intergenerational contract, and transformation in the regime of reproductive labor with decollectivization are keys to understanding these patterns. Copyright © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial issues in China: Gender, ethnicity, labor, and the environment
EditorsZhidong HAO, Sheying CHEN
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer
Pages67-84
ISBN (Electronic)9781461422242
ISBN (Print)9781461422235
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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inter-generational contract
labor
China
Law
care for the aged
parents
extended family
old age
child care
new media
obligation
equity
assistance
regime
responsibility
gender
science

Citation

To, C. W.-c. (2014). Domestic labor, gendered intergenerational contract, and shared elderly support in rural South China. In Z. Hao, & S. Chen (Eds.), Social issues in China: Gender, ethnicity, labor, and the environment (pp. 67-84). New York: Springer.

Keywords

  • Mothers-in-law
  • Domestic labor
  • Intergenerational relations
  • Elderly care
  • Inheritance
  • Daughters-in-law