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Brotherhood considered – Responsibility and tensions concerning elderly support in North China


Wu, Xiujie (2010). Brotherhood considered – Responsibility and tensions concerning elderly support in North China. Sociologus, 60(2):219-239.

Abstract

The culture of the Han-Chinese designates brotherhood as a valuable form of alliance. Codes of behaviour towards one’s brother(s) are ascribed in cultural norms. However, within the concept and practices of kinship, ambiguous borderlines of hierarchy and egalitarianism among brothers leave certain areas free for contesting individual interests. This article takes an extended case study of conflict between two brothers in their old age over their elderly support provisions to analyse how notions of brotherhood are re-shaped as Chinese peasants are confronted with serious social insecurity due to lower incomes and insufficient institutional arrangements for elderly support; how conventional concepts of hierarchy, equality, and fairness have been mobilised, interpreted in different ways to justify their own rights and rightness before the civil judgements of other villagers and the verdicts of the juridical system. This case study directs the reader’s attention to the different facets of societal transformation in the last three decades, which impact kinship arrangements, and accordingly caused immense individual anxiety.

The culture of the Han-Chinese designates brotherhood as a valuable form of alliance. Codes of behaviour towards one’s brother(s) are ascribed in cultural norms. However, within the concept and practices of kinship, ambiguous borderlines of hierarchy and egalitarianism among brothers leave certain areas free for contesting individual interests. This article takes an extended case study of conflict between two brothers in their old age over their elderly support provisions to analyse how notions of brotherhood are re-shaped as Chinese peasants are confronted with serious social insecurity due to lower incomes and insufficient institutional arrangements for elderly support; how conventional concepts of hierarchy, equality, and fairness have been mobilised, interpreted in different ways to justify their own rights and rightness before the civil judgements of other villagers and the verdicts of the juridical system. This case study directs the reader’s attention to the different facets of societal transformation in the last three decades, which impact kinship arrangements, and accordingly caused immense individual anxiety.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:790 Sports, games & entertainment
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:July 2010
Deposited On:30 Apr 2012 16:23
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:44
Publisher:Duncker & Humblot
ISSN:0038-0377
Publisher DOI:10.3790/soc.60.2.219
Related URLs:http://ejournals.duncker-humblot.de/loi/soc
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-61210

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