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Transnational grandparents and childcare: the gap between policy and experience

10 Mar 2015

Older immigrants are often pegged as dependents, likely to need care, who are a burden on Canada’s welfare state.

Y. Rachel Zhou challenges this policy position by drawing on data from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded qualitative study of the experiences of Chinese grandparents who provided transnational caregiving in Canada.

At a CHEPA seminar on Weds March 18, Zhou, an Associate Professor at McMaster’s School of Social Work and the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, describes three interconnected issues:

  • How grandparents’ contribution to childcare is essential to Chinese skilled immigrant families’ settlement and immigrant women’s participation in the labour force in Canada
  • How the commodification of care has led to the devaluation of things like family time and the development of cultural knowledge that are key to childrens’ development
  • How transnational caregiving, while enabling families to mobilize care resources outside Canada, has also ruptured the traditional trajectories of aging for grandparents and complicated inequalities for individuals and families.

In her seminar, Transnational family, transnational care, and transnational aging: Bridging the gap between policy and lived experience, Zhou argues that the government of Canada and other host countries must untangle the contradictions of immigration and care policy and address the disparities embedded in transnational care-giving.

She believes that generational and transnational social justice requires policy makers to take into account policy effects that go beyond the nation-state and its citizenry and intersect with such aspects of immigration as the reconfiguration of families, cultural change and ageing.

The seminar will be held on Weds. March 18 in CRLB-119 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The seminar will be available remotely for those unable to attend.

Zhou holds a PhD and an MA from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the impacts of globalization processes such as immigration, transnationalism and neoliberalism, on human welfare and social welfare systems in local and transnational arenas.

She has widely published in the areas of immigration, aging, social policy, and HIV/AIDS in peer-reviewed journals such as
Journal of Aging Studies; Health; Social Science & Medicine; International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics; Culture, Health & Sexuality; Time & Society; Global Social Policy; and Transnational Social Review.

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