UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changing Chinese family and elder care : the practice of filial piety among ethnic immigrant families in Vancouver Zeng, Xueping


Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in 2017 with Mandarin-Speaking Chinese senior migrants in Vancouver's downtown Chinatown, this thesis examines how the notion of filial piety and forms of intergenerational reciprocity are reconfigured and understood in the context of the shift of social support for the elderly shifting from the family to the state. Specifically, through income assistance and subsidized housing provided by the government, and assisted by a broad network built through friends, neighbours, and churches, the paper describes how welfare resources and social support provide a means for Chinese seniors to act strategically to deal with changes and family tensions for the sake of their families as well as for their own. My study of Chinese seniors however, suggests that it is possible for a sense of family value to coexist with a sense of individualistic values such as personal independence and lifelong productivity that are appreciated in a modern society. The forms of different values that emerged are not a reflection of dualism between the East and the West; rather, I argue these different forms of values are intertwined in overlapping process of modernism and traditionalism in immigrants to Canada. This thesis examines how intergenerational family relationships are affected by the availability of government-sponsored senior support programs, which are a resource that enables families to resolve tensions through the negotiation of coexisting values.

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