Yifan Rice Wang

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rice U.

Grant number

Gr. 9934

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Wang, Yifan (Rice U.) "Born to age: “Industrializing” eldercare and making aging subjects in China"

This project looks at the operation and effects of the rising eldercare industry in contemporary China. Along with China’s relaxation of the birth planning policies, most notably the official termination of the four-decades implementation of the “one-child policy” in 2015, China has been shifting its attention to population aging. In this socio-political context, I ask what it might entail when one is no longer born to be an “only child” but instead born as an aging subject. The objectives of this ethnographic project are twofold: (1) to examine the theories and practices that currently inform the operation of China’s elder care industry, and (2) to analyze the social effects that the “industrialization”—marketization and professionalization—of elder care produces. My research will primarily take place in Nanjing, China, a metropolitan city pressed by a shortage of elder care service provision while situated at the frontier of China’s market economy. There I will conduct 12-month fieldwork, working alongside corporate and state-sponsored non-profit elder care practitioners, ranging from caregivers to market researchers. My research will be a timely contribution to the understanding of demographic aging and its effects in this era of global aging.