Handbook on East Asian Social Policy
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Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Edited by Misa Izuhara

Dramatic socio-economic transformations over the last two decades have brought social policy and social welfare issues to prominence in many East Asian societies. Since the 1990s and in response to national as well as global pressure, there have been substantial developments and reforms in social policy in the region but the development paths have been uneven. Until recently, comparative analysis of East Asian social policy tends to have focused on the established welfare state of Japan and the emerging welfare regimes of four ‘Tiger Economies’. Much of the recent debate indeed preceded China’s re-emergence onto the world economy. In this context, this Handbook brings China more fully into the contemporary social policy debates in East Asia. Organised around five themes from welfare state developments, to theories and methodologies, to current social policy issues, the Handbook presents original research from leading specialists in the fields, and provides a fresh and updated perspective to the study of social policy.
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Chapter 22: Re-examining family-centred care arrangements in East Asia

Junko Yamashita, Naoko Soma and Raymond K.H. Chan


Providing and receiving care are fundamental activities of every human being. At different periods in our life-course we are all likely to require varying levels and types of support from others. Providing and receiving care can have both positive and negative aspects for those involved, and this experience is greatly influenced by social and cultural contexts, as well as the personal relationships between caregivers and care-receivers. The welfare state has a strong bearing on the resources available when we need to provide or receive care, and it establishes rules governing who can and should provide care and which care should be a policy concern. Care could be described as an activity and a set of relations lying at the intersection of state, market, family and community. Historically in East Asia, both in policy and in practice, the family has been the primary institution responsible for providing and financing care for both children and older people. The social norm that care should be family-centred has long been dominant, and care policies have supported and promoted this norm. However, such a ‘traditional’ model of care has come under urgent scrutiny in recent years, as rapid changes to demographic and family structures in East Asian necessitate the implementation of a different model of care. Indeed, it might even be argued that this reliance on a ‘traditional’, family-centred model of care has ironically created new social risks much more significantly in East Asia than in Europe.

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