Researching Family Relationships in China: A Mixed-Methods Study


Contemporary Chinese families are experiencing an increasingly rapid pace of change due to economic growth and the consequences of the One Child policy. These changes are leading to changing expectations concerning gender roles and relationships in families, including those of fathers and daughters. The study examines daughters' and fathers' perspectives of father–daughter relationships among two cohorts of girls aged 13–14 and 16–17 years in Shanghai. It seeks to understand how girls and fathers construct their identities as teenagers and as fathers, their family practices and how they negotiate parental authority and adolescent independence. A multi-methods research design was employed: 4 focus groups, a questionnaire survey with girls (N = 767) and their fathers (N = 599) and 17 semi-structured interviews were carried out separately with daughters and their fathers. It was found that most girls were generally happy with their father–daughter relationships. Fathers' financial and emotional support was highly valued. Overall, fathers' involvement was mainly focused on girls' education. However, fathers also exercised power over areas of their daughters' social lives, such as going out and making friends, Internet use and romantic relationships.

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