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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cohesion and competition : family structure in eleven Chinese households Bronsdon, Madeline


The subject of this dissertation is the form of the Chinese family in eleven Vancouver households. Using a theoretical model of the "traditional" family, this research is concerned with the differentiation of roles in the domestic unit and hos this is affected by the political and economic needs of the household. It is a view of Chinese family life expressed by children, and is concerned with how "traditional" family structure persists in these Chinese homes. Participant-observation, interviews, and a questionnaire were used to gain these insights. The research lasted for several months and was extended to include supplemented data from almost fifty Chinese families. A control group of non-Chinese respondents also completed the questionnaire. Nonetheless the dissertation as a whole is dependent upon data from the eleven households. It is the high degree of loyalty, co-operation, and cohesion in these families which is perhaps their most salient feature. This is related to the organization of the family store which all possess, the persistence of "traditional" differentiation of roles, and the agreement on high values of achievement. It is also related to the elusive but undeniable cultural identity of these households -- one which continues to affect family structure. In many respects these households approximate the "traditional" model, but one of its salient characteristics is lacking. There is no continuity of economic roles for children in these families, and this is highly significant for sons in particular. While at present there is family stability, the future will inevitably bring alterations in family structure as children assume economic roles outside the family: this is a radical departure from the "traditional" Chinese family.

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