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Liu, Jieyu (2017) 'Intimacy and Intergenerational Relations in Rural China.' Sociology, 51 (5). pp. 1034-1049.

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This article applies the concept of intimacy to examine relationships between adult children and their parents in rural China – an area which has been predominantly located in an obligatory framework. I reveal a qualitative difference in support between relationships built on intimate ties and those bound by duty and obligation. A unilateral emphasis on obligation-based relationships can deprive both the parent and adult child generations of agency and autonomy, which can be disempowering for both. The complex relations between intimacy and obligation are the product of local socio-economic circumstances and gender norms. Although traditional patrilineal and patrilocal culture excludes married daughters from the filial discourse surrounding their own parents, they are often considered to have the most intimate relationship with their parents. Paradoxically, the practices of intimacy between aged parents and their married daughters strengthen the natal ties that facilitate modifications to patrilocal and patrilineal customs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Published online before print: 27 April 2016.
Keywords: ageing, family, gender, intergenerational relations, intimacy, migration, rural China, social change
SOAS Departments & Centres: Regional Centres and Institutes > SOAS China Institute
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ISSN: 00380385
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s) 2016. This is the accepted manuscript of an article published by SAGE in Sociology. Available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 May 2016 09:29

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