Guan (Care/Control): An Ethnographic Understanding of Care for People with Severe Mental Illness from Shanghai’s Urban Communities

Jianfeng Zhu, Tianshu Pan, Hai Yu, Dong Dong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article investigates how the political culture of Guan (care/control) in China is played out across the platforms of the state, the community and the family through the lens of caring for people with severe mental illness in urban Shanghai. Based on ethnographic data collected from six communities in a district of Shanghai, we provide a nuanced understanding of the roles of family members, street committees and other governmental organizations in their daily practices of caring for people with severe mental illness. We show the complicated and intertwined relationships between local governmental agents and the family. We argue that the political culture of Guan, which permeates the everyday life of Chinese people, tends to objectify its subjects and reflects a long history of patriarchy in Chinese society. Without further changing such political cultural arrangements, respect for the agency of mentally ill patients, the effort of bringing humanistic psychiatric reforms to China, will be in vain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-111
Number of pages20
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Care
  • China
  • Control
  • Mental health
  • Political culture

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