Relationship between emotion and family membership Introduction Emotion can be defined as a mental state that arises instinctively rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes. Moreover, it is the part of the consciousness that involves feeling and sensibility. But in Chinese conception of emotion, it is no need to be related to impulsion, instinct, sex desire or barbarity. In the meantime, since China’s reform and opening up, the family membership have some change because of the diffusion of Western cultural elements.
However, the traditions still remain. In this paper, I suggest that in contemporary China, emotion is not the sole basis of family membership and its expression can be influenced by the Chinese-style kinship to some extent. In this view, this paper will be separated into two parts. The first part will state the role of emotion in parental-child and marital relationship. In the former one, emotion is inherent but has to follow the social relationships and highly partitionable affection; while in the latter one, it is necessary but supposed to be intertwined with other elements such as “work”.
The second part will set forth how the attributes of Chinese inship, continuity, inclusiveness, and authority impact on the way Chinese people using emotion and dealing with it in society. Parental affection under social relationships Emotion, as an unlearned inherent human characteristic, will be regulated in the process of appropriately enacting social relationships. (Sulamith Heins Potter, “The Cultural Construction of Emotion in Rural Chinese Social Life”, Ethos, Vol. 16, No. , June 1988)ln Confucian China, there are five cardinal relationships: lord and subject, father and son, husband and wife, brother and brother, and friend and friend. And our of them have each a particular variety of virtue assigned to it. For example, to the father-son relationship is the virtue of filial piety (Hsiao). These Chinese virtues are too specific to be transferable to other relationships. Besides, there are three cardinal guides as well: lord guides subject, father guides son, and husband guides wife, which has been regarded as a basic moral principle in China.
The ideology of patrilineal descent formed based on these relationships, and the man is the head of a family. Thus, assumed as the role of stern disciplinarian, traditional Chinese fathers ere not encouraged or tolerated emotional indulgence to promote that dependency. Most Chinese fathers did feel a warm, deep sentiment toward their children, though articulation of that sentiment was restrained by their traditional parenting role and its expectations. William Jankowiak, “Proper Men and Proper Women: Parental Affection in the Chinese Family’, in Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities, University ot Calitornia Press)However, there is an increasing intimacy ot tamer-child interaction as a result of the new urban infrastructure, where a positive environment of expression for warm sentiments is supported. In contrast, mothers exercise tremendous psychological control over their offspring from beginning to end. Adoration might be used to describe the emotional connections between mother and child.
The emotional bond a woman forms with her child during its fancy and the early childhood years is maintained, which legitimizes and promotes an intense lifelong emotional bond between mother and child. In fact, a woman must provide the links in the male chain of descent, but there is no permanent setting for her. Margery Wolf, “Uterine Families and the Women’s Community’, in Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan, Stanford University Press With this feeling of insecurity, mothers devote more affection to her children in a more direct way.
In conclusion, fathers are more ambivalent than mothers in balancing their obligations as both spouse and parent. The ambivalence was profoundly articulated by many college- educated fathers who voiced concern that their children loved their mothers than them. Oankowiak, op. cit. p. 11) Such phenomenon is a reflection of emotion’s status of concomitant and the independence of social relationships. Pao: Children’s affection towards parents The Chinese believe that reciprocity of action between man and man should be as certain as a cause-and-effect relationship, and therefore, when a Chinese acts, he normally anticipates a response or return. Francis L. K. Hsu, “Eros, affect and Pao”