East Asian Anxieties: Child-centered Relatedness and Parents’ Care Work in Education in Singapore

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragKonferensabstract


The size and ‘quality’ of the population are issues of major concern in contemporary East Asia, as fertility rates are falling and competitiveness increasingly centers on ‘a fitting’ human capital. While Singapore is located in Southeast Asia geographically speaking, it is culturally linked to East Asia in terms of its heritage of Confucianism and the Chinese language. Singapore and other East Asian countries are globally celebrated for their high academic standards and for producing students who excel in international assessment tests and rankings. In this context, parents’ involvement in children’s education is increasingly taken for granted. It is well documented in previous research that Singaporean (middle-class) parents invest substantial resources, time and emotion in supporting their children academically and developmentally. While the need for intensive parenting (cf. Hays 1996) is likely heightened in such a competitive education system, parents’ efforts and aspirations in raising their young children cannot be understood as purely strategic and calculating. On the contrary, ethnographic data highlights the complexities of parents’ risk management and how they navigate uncertainties with regard to their children’s future. Sentiments of fear of regret and guilt are particularly conspicuous in parents’ narratives around their children’s education. In this paper I propose that the transformation of traditional intergenerational expectations and the emergence of a child-centered relatedness in East Asian societies (Kipnis 2011) are vital to understand parents’ sentiments of uncertainty and guilt in relation to their children’s future. By drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Singapore, I attempt to shed light on the subjective desires, anxieties and aspirations that shapes contemporary parenting in East Asia, and address its consequences for family life and intergenerational relations.
StatusPublished - 2023
EvenemangAmerican Anthropological Association Annual Meeting 2023: Transitions - Toronto, Kanada
Varaktighet: 2023 nov. 152023 nov. 19


KonferensAmerican Anthropological Association Annual Meeting 2023
Förkortad titelAAA/CASCA

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