Family bond and family obligation: Continuity and transformation

Xiaoying Qi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


In examining family relations in contemporary China the article reports the findings of an empirical investigation, which are discussed in terms of recent accounts in the specialist literature. While the individualization thesis suggests that the bonds between family members are diminishing and that family obligations are similarly less significant than they used to be, it is shown here that family bonds and obligations remain strong, even though the grounds on which they are performed and the attitudes and emotions associated with them have undergone change since China’s marketization from the 1980s. The individualization thesis neglects the process of reinterpretation and re-negotiation of filial obligation, and fails to appreciate that modification of filial behaviour is initiated not only by the younger generation but also by the older. The article shows that contemporary filial relations are less concerned with authority, and more directed to financial and emotional support for parents, and from parents to children both adult and dependent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Sociology
Issue number1
Early online date16 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • authority
  • exchange
  • filial obligation
  • individualism
  • intimacy
  • reciprocity
  • respect


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