Accepted Paper:

Care for disabled elders in Bingtuan, China  


Heila Sha (Coventry University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I wish to discuss the care provided to disabled elders and elders affected with dementia, based on one year fieldwork in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (Bingtuan), China.

Paper long abstract:

Most members of Bigntuan are migrants from other provinces, arrived at different times since the establishment of PRC(1949), in processes generally coordinated by the government. The Bingtuan is recognized as a corporation, allowing its members access to the modern pension systems, health insurance and other benefits. However, the Bingtuan elders are suffering from different diseases, which prevents them from enjoying their lives. Traditionally, elders lived with married sons, and care for the elders was the main obligation of sons. Nonetheless, in Bingtuan nowadays, with the rapid increase in rural-urban migration since the economic reform, most younger generations move to other cities in search of jobs. Even those who live nearby have difficulties in offering assistance considering their jobs and their own children or grandchildren. Therefore, spouses become the main care-givers. Unfortunately, most of them are also facing health problems. Plus, the relationship between couples in the past also makes it different in offering care for disabled or dementia elders. The high price of care for disabled or dementia due to the shortage of professional care workers, and conservative ideas of elders based on traditional norms also create the care gap. Therefore, I want to investigate the practice and models of care for disabled or dementia elders, the meaning of intimacy and collaboration in care work, how the past experience affects the quality and attitude of offering help, and how traditional patterns of help and care are changing in the face of contemporary social-political and economic transitions.

Panel P013
Collaboration and intimacy in the politics of care work