Abstract: In the transitional society of contemporary China, the patriarchal and patrilineal family institution has been declining and experienced challenges from the matrilineal side of the family. Using semi-structured interviews with 21 adult Chinese women in the Yangtze Delta area, this study asks questions regarding how Chinese women provide eldercare to both parents and parents-in-law in their daily life. Findings show that parents and their adult children are dependent on each other, forming an intimate symbiosis in their life. Second, this intergenerational intimacy is an entanglement among money, affection and practices. Third, with the weakening of patriarchal norms and strengthening of matrilineal practices, a new bilateral and multi-nucleate family mode is emerging. Forth, while the new gender norms are forming, patriarchal tradition is rewritten and even strengthened to a degree. Further enriching the theory of mosaic familism, this study describes how tradition and modernity interweave in the process of China’s family re-institutionalization from the patriarchal, patrilineal institution to a new bilateral family mode featured by the intergenerational intimacy.
Speaker bio: Yingchun Ji is Eastern Scholar Professor at the School of Sociology and Political Science, Shanghai University; associate president of the Shanghai Gerontological Association; board member of the International Chinese Sociological Association; and associate editor of the Chinese Sociological Review.