Narratives of Intergenerational Relationships in Maanshan, a Small Chinese City

By Xin J. Zhang and Gertina J. van Schalkwyk.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Published online: March 29, 2017 $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The purpose of this discovery-oriented narrative study was to gain an understanding of current approaches to filial piety and intergenerational relationships as perceived by younger adults living in Maanshan, a relatively small city in the People’s Republic of China. We interviewed eleven young adults aged 24–36 years in a small city, using non-purposive convenience sampling and the Collage Life-story Elicitation Technique for collecting narratives regarding how young adults in modern China anticipate caring for their elderly parents in future. Only the verbal (story telling) narratives were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings reflect themes related to current forms of intergenerational relationship practices and psychosocial motives the single-child young adult might face caring for his or her ageing parents. Three intergenerational relational patterns emerged as the (i) concern for parents and fear of criticism, (ii) a kind of gratitude and guilt, and (iii) the wish for more open and in-depth communication with elderly parents. Different from earlier practices of filial piety is the emergence of a transition in intergenerational exchanges and the downward support flow evident in the stories of participants. We also reflect on the need for possible refinement of filial piety models in the context of China and modern era.

Keywords: Collage Life-story Elicitation Technique, Dual Filial Piety Model, Intergenerational Relationship, Intergenerational Exchange, Narrative

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.63-73. Published online: March 29, 2017 (Article: Print (Spiral Bound)). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 614.433KB).

Xin J. Zhang

Ph.D. Student, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Science, University of Macau, Macau, China

Gertina J. van Schalkwyk

Head, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Science, University of Macau, Macau, China