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Constructing the meaning of filial responsibility: choice and obligation in the accounts of adult children

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This article reports findings from an interpretive study of filial responsibility constructions among 28 adult children with ageing parents in Victoria, Canada. Participants were interviewed in person and data were analysed using coding and constant comparison, with attention to the content and process of talk. Participants tended to have difficulty with using the construct of responsibility to describe the support they provided for ageing parents. Ambivalence was tied to symbolic associations of the construct with obligation and burden, which were difficult to reconcile with interpretations of filial relationships as loving and moral, and participants' desires to construct themselves as autonomous. Participants also sought to interpret parent support as voluntary, yet the ideal of choice was difficult to reconcile with specific realities. The discussion highlights how the interpretive framework of choice may further inadvertently support political and economic goals that promote and increase the need for family care of older people.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: November, 2015

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