Childhood, children and family lives in China

Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Phoenix, Ann; Yu, Guo and Xu, Xiaoli (2017). Childhood, children and family lives in China. In: Zang, Xiaowei and Zhao, Lucy Xia eds. Handbook on the Family and Marriage in China. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 286–304.



In this chapter we bring into focus those aspects of family lives in China that are concerned with children’s family relationships, and the ways in which such issues are part and parcel of the broader institutionalisation of childhood. We draw on theoretical frameworks in the sociology of childhood and childhood studies (e.g., Prout, 2004; Qvortrup, 2000; Smith and Greene, 2014). Since these theoretical perspectives have developed predominantly in Anglophone literature, some researchers have considered their relevance to, and utility for, China and Chinese childhoods (Goh, 2011; Miao, 2013; Wang YY, 2011, 2014a, 2014b; Zheng, 2012a, 2012b; Ribbens McCarthy et al., 2017). In engaging with existing theories, and applying them to, Chinese children’s family lives, we seek to go beyond any tendency to just ‘add in the missing children’ to existing discussions (Kesby et al., 2006: 186), and give consideration to a variety of cultural and local contexts that characterise China and illuminate why it is necessary to decentre universalist thinking
(Jullien, 2008/2014)

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