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The cultural logics of mothering practices: agency capacity of the university-educated Chinese mothers in Singapore and Hong Kong

Sin Sin Yeung (Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)

Social Transformations in Chinese Societies

ISSN: 1871-2673

Article publication date: 28 September 2023

Issue publication date: 7 May 2024

38

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to reveal and compare the cultural logics of university-educated Chinese mothers in Singapore and Hong Kong in their mothering practices to improvise their femininities in constituting their work–family interactions.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative research, with the ethnographic elements, has included 32 Chinese mothers to share about their mothering experiences through semi-structured interviews. This methodological design with feminist lens embraces women’s own narratives as sources of knowledge and learns their voices to reinvent their role and bodily engagement in shaping their family dynamics.

Findings

This discussion basically reaffirms the argument where the mother’s involvement in their children’s schoolwork becomes one of the core elements in their actual everyday mothering practices. It has further reflected the dynamics of family quality time in the light of mothers’ cultural logics as much as their attentive agency capacity to present their respectable femininity in the form of mothering.

Research limitations/implications

This research process has revealed the actual experiences of the participants from their own narratives. For future research development, data collection can be extended to include the husbands’ profiles and their narratives in understanding their wives’ mothering experiences.

Originality/value

This discussion enriches the work-family literature by extending it to the Asian Chinese context. While the concepts of cultural capital and habitus have been addressed in previous studies, this discussion highlights the agency capacity of the university-educated Chinese mothers in their cultural logics to deliver their respective mothering practices. This filtering process to transmit cultural capital to their children is as much as they involve in reproducing status boundaries for the family.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to sincerely thank all the mothers and their families involved in this study for their narratives and experiences, which had become the irreplaceable sources to the discussion. The author is grateful to have the reviewers’ and editors’ comments to improve this research article.

The discussion in this paper is partly excerpted from the fieldwork the author conducted in 2013–2014 for my PhD research on the Cultural Logics of Mothering Practices: A Study of Educated Chinese Mothers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Funding: The author received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

Citation

Yeung, S.S. (2024), "The cultural logics of mothering practices: agency capacity of the university-educated Chinese mothers in Singapore and Hong Kong", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 49-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/STICS-07-2023-0002

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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