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Workshop on Main Results of Research Program on Strengthening Vietnamese Families in the Period 2011-2020 (May 9, 2013)

Within the framework of the ministerial-leveled research program on Strengthening Vietnamese Families for the period 2011-2020 conducted by the Institute for Family and Gender Studies in 2011-2012, on 24-25 September 2012, in Ha Noi, the Institute for Family and Gender Studies held a workshop on the main results of the research program. Researchers of the IFGS and some scholars from other institutions were attended the workshop.

The Research Program on Strengthening Vietnamese Families for the Period 2011-2020 includes six studies covering the issues on the organising family life of migrants, the values of child in Vietnamese families, the marital relationships and intergenerational relationships including the relationships between parents and adolescent children, between the elderly members of family and their adult children and grandchildren.

The workshop aimed at several objectives. First, it placed the forum for researchers to share ideas and research results and learn from one another. Second, it is to review and look back comprehensively the results of research projects of the Program at the final stage of research process. By doing so, the workshop is the great opportunity for the Institute to get the contributive ideas for the completion of the Program Report which is anticipated to inform evidence-based policy implications in the context of global integration and social changes in Vietnam in the period 2011-2020. Third, the workshop offers young and mid-career researchers an opportunity to learn methodologies, research approaches, analytical skills of qualitative and quantitative data, writing skills and presentation skills through their interaction in the workshop. It is also part of the capacity building activities within the framework of the Institute’s human resource development strategy.

The workshop is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on three issues, including the theoretical approaches of family relationship research, the emerging issues of child values in Vietnamese families, and the options of migrants in organizing their family life and making migration decisions. In the current context of Vietnam, the theories of role, structural functionalism, conflict, and gender studies are mostly applied in examining and analyzing family relationships. Family relationships are closely associated with several factors relating to individuals, family environment, kinship, community and society. The close relationships between economic resources and cultural norms, the active participation of women in labour market, the improvements of women’s education attainment and thus in their economic independence are much linked with the change in marital relationships. Family relationships also are influenced by the intensively tradition factors including gender stereotypes, communication, mutual entertainment activities, affections, sexuality, intergenerational interaction to modernity-related factors like individual privacy, problem-solving skills and state-related factors such as family policies, legal system, and family-friendly programs. The study on child values is considered a need in the currently transitional Vietnam. It is assumed that social changes and rapid development and integration of the country have brought about changes in people’s attitudes towards having a child, son preference and the meaning of a child. The preliminary analysis indicates that several issues, including the economic meaning of child(ren), the psychological and mental meaning of child(ren), the costs of having child(ren) need further study and explain in the new context. Migration is universally phenomenon in the globalization and integration age and also a representation of modernization and social change. Migration has changed the family structure now that families have just a parent at home or both parents are away from home. Therefore, migrants face several challenges to organize their family life and maintain the conventional family functions. Men and women consider differently factors before making decision of migrating in which the benefit of children and the household’s income generation are the most considered.

The second part discusses three family relationships (husband-wife; parents and adolescent children; and the elderly and other family members). The presentations in this part provide the evidence of changes in these family relationships in the current context and point out the perspectives of relationships need more researching and intervening in order to build strong families in Vietnam. The study on husband-wife relationships points out significant changes which are closely associated with the changes in women’s roles in family and society. Traditional stereotypes which used to control husband-wife relationships seem now out-of-fashion since women have actively participated in labour force. Novel practices of communication and interaction between husband and wife are observed while a large number of people are still reluctant to accept them. These create conflicts between husband and wife. Research results suggest that the country’s rapid economic development has brought about great opportunities for the development of adolescents in the meanwhile it has offered window of challenges for both parents and adolescent children in harmonise the relationship between parents and adolescent children in different ways. The third family relationship discussed in the workshop is the relationship between the elderly and children/grandchildren. It is observed that the most preferable living arrangement of elderly in Vietnam is living separately and close to adult children’s house that on one hand mitigate the conflicts amongst generations while the elderly still can easily get support and care from their children. The data analysis also implies that modernisation-related factors have transformed the relationship between the elderly and other family members.

Given its objectives, the workshop was successful in the way that it did open forum for researchers to discuss, exchange and learn. The presenters received a lot of comments and contributive ideas for their research. The discussion also opens windows of research areas for themes and invites further research for the Institute.

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