Family caring for the elderly during the pandemic in Hong Kong: perspective from Confucian familism

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The aim of this paper is to argue for the values of familial caring and relationships in addition to the provision of social media technology during the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.

The discussion of this paper has adopted an inter-disciplinary approach by integrating health care system and psychological analysis, based on cultural philosophical argument through the hermeneutic approach of classical texts and critical analysis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the dilemma between the public health measures for COVID-19 and sustaining elderly social psychological health through familial connection. From a Confucian perspective, the practice of filial piety (xiao, 孝), which demands taking care of parents, is essential for one’s moral formation, and for one’s becoming a virtuous (ren, 仁) person. The necessity of taking care of elderly parents by adult children is not something that can be explained in terms of consequentialism. Indeed, the rising trend of instrumental rationality seems to weaken rather than strengthen the sense of filial obligation. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic which tends to separate connections between family members, the author argues that we should emphasize the values of familial caring and relationship because it enhances the elderly’s characteristic of resilience.

This paper shows that while social media technology has mitigated the negative effect of social distancing, such online relationships should never replace the bodily connections between the elderly and their family members from a Confucian perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Administration and Policy: An Asia-Pacific Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2022


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