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The Care of Older people in Urban China: Who is Responsible

Cheung, Pui Ling Ada (2016) The Care of Older people in Urban China: Who is Responsible. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:61789)


As an ageing society going through dramatic economic and political transitions, the care of older people in urban China has increasingly become a source of social anxiety and a topic of policy debate. This study has identified three key actors in the provision of care to older people in urban China, namely the family, the neighbourhood and the state. While the Confucian emphasis on filial piety and intergenerational responsibility has put the family as the primary care provider for older people, the neighbourhood is also conventionally perceived as a safety net for them. In a society that was once dominated by the values of communal reciprocity and collective responsibilities, the state has restricted its support only to those most deprived, and has thus played a limited role in promoting welfare entitlements for older people. Yet, since the 1980s, the transition from a collective socialist economy to a competitive market economy has also transformed societal values on issues such as individuality, family, responsibility, privacy and autonomy, which subsequently changed social expectations of how the care of older people should be best delivered. I argue that in order to understand the changing social expectations and the corresponding responses from different stakeholders, one has to first comprehend the shifting ideas of the rights and responsibilities associated with the care of older people. The changing perspectives towards different types of old-age support were examined, based on 39 qualitative interviews with key stakeholders (older people, academics, government officials and local Residents Committee officers and NGO staff) in two Chinese cities, Beijing and Guangzhou. This research contributes knowledge to social gerontology and social policy field through a broader understanding of the pursuance of a 'good life' by older people in contemporary China. It points to my argument that independence and autonomy in old age, as valued by the interviewees, will not be realised unless there is a fundamental shift in policy. That is to say, policies should recognise and respect the individuality of older people and facilitate their life choices. Most importantly, a balanced welfare mix requires the state to play a stronger role in filling the care provision gap left by the family and the neighbourhood.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Mitton, Lavinia
Thesis advisor: Zhang, Joy
Uncontrolled keywords: ageing, old-age support, rights and responsibilities, family, neighbourhood, state
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 19 May 2017 11:00 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 04:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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