Intimate networks of care: Perceptions of intergenerational family care and experiences of ageing among Chinese midlife and older lesbians and gay men

Iris Po Yee Lo*, Emma H. Liu, Daniel W. L. Lai, Elsie Yan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines how lesbians and gay men imagine and build their ‘intimate networks of care’ and negotiate moral expectations towards intergenerational family care as they age. To date, little is known about the strength and complexities of different intimate ties or the role of intergenerational dynamics in shaping ageing sexual minority people’s care needs and choices. Based on narrative interviews with ageing Chinese lesbians and gay men, the findings reveal their experiences of constantly juggling their ties with families of origin, moral values around intergenerational care and the urge to receive support from and offer support to chosen networks of people. Participants exercised agency in expanding their networks of care by building friendship and (online and offline) community networks for mutual care and support in later life. Nevertheless, as evidenced by the centrality of ageing with(out) children, and the moral obligation of caring for parents in participants’ narratives, participants experienced tensions between enacting what was considered morally right/wrong and developing networks of care that were perceived as emotionally intimate. Linking relational sociology with the sociology of morality, we discuss the conceptual utility of ‘intimate networks of care’ for sociological theorising of the linkages between sexuality, care and relational lives.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • ageing
  • care
  • intergenerational
  • intimacy
  • sexuality

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