The Rise of Neo-Familism in Contemporary China
Yunxiang Yan, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles
Based on evidence drawn from longitudinal fieldwork over three decades and secondary literature, the present study unpacks the complex connections among the new pattern of intergenerational relations, the redefinition of filial piety and the rise of neo-familism in contemporary Chinese society. Remarkable developments include the increasing importance of parents-children axis in family relations, the surge of intergenerational intimacy, the renewed primacy of the family in public life, and the trend of descending familism in which the focal point of resource allocation, emotional attachment, and life aspiration in the family has shifted from glorifying the ancestors to raising the perfect child. Consequently, the family institution has been further privatized, the individual has exercised more agency in the working of family relations, and yet the individualization process has taken a collectivist twist.