The Binding Tie
Chinese Intergenerational Relations in Modern Singapore
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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Writing a book is a long journey and I would never have accomplished this work without the support and help of a great many people. I would first like to express my gratitude to all my colleagues at the Department of Social Anthropology, Lund University. In particular I would like to thank Professor Kajsa Ekholm Friedman for opening my eyes to the art of ethnography ...
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Bee Chooâs paternal grandfather and granduncle left China in the early twentieth century to set up a fishing business in Singapore, where they hoped conditions would be better. The two brothers settled down in a small kampung (village) there and built a house for both their families to live in. Their new home was soon crowded, with eight children on Bee Chooâs ...
Introduction: Challenges to Family Ties in an Asian Global City
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The point of departure for this study is the seeming contradiction between, on one hand, rapid societal change and the erosion of cultural continuity across generations (or an emerging generation gap) and, on the other hand, prevailing notions of traditional family values. Bee Chooâs narrative is representative of middle-class Singaporeans of her age group, as it illustrates the dramatic societal and personal transformations that have ...
1. From Temasek to the Republic of Singapore: A Historical Overview
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It is difficult to make sense of present-day Singapore without some knowledge of its history. Singapore was under British colonial rule between 1819 and 1963. Historical and archeological records of precolonial Singapore are scarce, but they do suggest that settlements in the area date back at least six hundred years prior to 1819. The earliest reliable references to the small island come from the fourteenth-century Javanese work ...
2. Fieldwork in the Metropolis
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The tiny island-state of Singapore is located at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, immediately north of the equator. Currently, the total land area amounts to approximately 700 square kilometers, less than half the size of Hong Kong. It would be misleading to give an exact figure, since Singaporeâs land area is growing constantly due to reclamation, the creation of new land where there was previously water. Anyone who ...
3. Modernity and the Generation Gap: The Singapore Experience
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This study argues the importance of rethinking the structural correlation between modernity and intergenerational relations. The emergence of modernity is usually associated with a set of characteristics, including industrial capitalism, commodification, social differentiation, individualism, democracy, the nation-state, secularization, alienation, and ...
4. Binding Ties
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In the previous chapter, I discussed how the massive transformation of Singapore has disrupted cultural continuity across generations. Rapid economic development and upward social mobility, as well as state policies and individual Singaporeansâ aspirations to be modern have caused a deep generational divide and an inversion of the relationship between ...
5. Renegotiating the Intergenerational Contract
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The previous chapter discussed the ways in which the Chinese intergenerational contract is regenerated in contemporary Singapore. But the terms and realization of the intergenerational contract are far from uncontested. I have already touched upon challenges facing intergenerational relations in Singaporeâmassive upward social mobility, the widen ing generation gap, and an emerging ageism. The erosion of extended family units ...
Conclusion: Living in Transition
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When I began my fieldwork I was intrigued by the seeming contradiction between traditional family values and the huge generational divide caused by Singaporeâs dramatic modernization. The Singaporean experience of modernity is peculiar in several respects, but most striking are the parallel processes of intergenerational integration and disintegration. While the family remains a pivotal feature of society and the primary ...
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Publication Year: 2009