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The complexity of morality: Being a ‘good child’ in Vietnam?
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 23:05 authored by Rachel Burr
In this article I examine what it means to be a good child in Vietnam. Throughout the country ancestral worship is widely practiced. This traditionally places emphasis on the need for a boy child to continue the practice of worship into the next generation. Because of this, while the high value placed on the boy child has been tempered by the influence of communist rule and modernity, the eldest boy still often holds preferential status. Under such circumstances the good child is one who accepts his or her position within the hierarchical structure of the family and is also willing to subjugate his or her individual needs to the greater collective good. This might manifest itself in a child’s ‘choice’ to work on the streets so that their earnings can be sent home to support other siblings through their schooling. Or it might show itself in the practice of children accepting and apparently supporting that fact that they have been sent to an orphanage or ‘hidden’ so that a parent can try for more male children. It would be naive though to conclude from this that boys and girls are automatically raised within separate moral frameworks. Instead this article proposes that at the local level what it means to be a good child is even more complex because the notion of the good, moral and filial child is shaped as much by family circumstances and expectation as it is by the mores and values of the wider society.
- Published version
JournalJournal of Moral Education
Department affiliated with
- Social Work and Social Care Publications
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