The Everyday Lives of Policies and People
Edited by Norman Long, Jingzhong Ye and Yihuan Wang
Chapter 9: Growing Up and Growing Old in Rural Mexico and China: Care-giving for the Young and the Elderly at the Family–State Interface
Gail Mummert INTRODUCTION Rural societies around the world have created a diversity of arrangements to provide intensive care to children and the aged. Generally these arrangements emerge at the family level and involve intergenerational flows of resources and care-giving based upon ideological and moral tenets of filial duty and kin solidarity. However, state institutions also participate – directly or indirectly – in assuring that the fundamental needs of these two potentially vulnerable age groups are covered, typically invoking a discourse of social justice and intergenerational solidarity to justify their intervention. Yet, as rural societies were transformed worldwide in the latter half of the twentieth century by trends such as massive migration toward urban centers and industrialized countries, dwindling economic opportunities in the countryside, demographic transitions to lower fertility and longer life expectancy, and the decline of multigenerational households, traditional care-giving arrangements for the rural young and old came under siege. Today more and more families around the globe are experiencing prolonged periods of physical separation of grandparents, parents and children as the sandwich generation of breadwinners struggles to adequately provide for both their offspring and their progenitors. This phenomenon of the work of production and reproduction being performed across kilometers and even international borders merits close attention from social scientists committed to influencing policymaking and deconstructing past policies whose repercussions reach far into the future. This chapter analyses fluid, multidimensional and multi-sited caregiving arrangements in an attempt to understand their social and cultural 215 216 Rural transformations and development – China in context...
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