Hong Kong Lesbian Partners in the Making of Their Own Families

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter adopts the theoretical approach of social constructionism and considers family to be a human product rather than manifestation of any inherent or transhistorical essences. Specifically, it explores the meaning-making processes of lesbian couples who consider themselves family, despite being shut out of wedlock in Hong Kong. The first section critically reviews the family studies in Hong Kong, and it will highlight same-sex partnerships as a missing part of family diversity. In what follows, I shall discuss the findings of a qualitative study based on biographical interviews with 10 lesbians who identified their same-sex partners as family members. It is found that, unlike the “lesbaby boom” in the West during the 1980s, the making of family by Hong Kong lesbians is not so much associated with the plan to have children. Rather, they articulate and experience the same-sex relationships as family along three major axes: affirmation of commitment, provision of care, and integration with blood families. This study shows the interaction and interdependence between agency and structure, and argues that Hong Kong lesbian couples are active agents who borrow and sometimes even go beyond the rules of heterosexual relationships in constructing a new social reality—same-sex family—for themselves.

Keywords

Beach Expense Productive Line Dine Metaphor 

References

  1. Allen, K. R., & Demo, D. H. (1995). The families of lesbians and gay man: A new frontier in family research. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57(1), 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altman, D. (1996). On global queering. Australian Humanities Review No. 2 (July–August). Retrieved August 8, 2009 from http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-July-1996/altman.html.
  3. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  4. Cheung, S. K. (1995). Post divorce family environment as a protective factor against depression of children of single-parent families. Hong Kong Journal of Social Work, 29, 35–46.Google Scholar
  5. Cheung, S. K. (2004). Post-divorce co-parenting – An exploratory study. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council.Google Scholar
  6. Choi, K. T. (2008). Men as breadwinner and women as homemaker? In K. B. Chan (Ed.), Our families, our homes: Sociological studies of families in Hong Kong and China (pp. 35–68). Hong Kong: Chung Hwa Book Company.Google Scholar
  7. Foucault, M. (1976). The history of sexuality (The will to knowledge, Vol. 1). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  8. Fox, B., & Luxton, M. (2001). Conceptualizing family. In B. J. Fox (Ed.), Family patterns, gender relations (pp. 22–33). Don Mills: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Giddens, A. (1979). Central problems in social theory: Action, structure and contradiction in social analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Giddens, A. (1981). Agency, institution, and time-space analysis. In K. Knorr-Cetina & A. V. Cicourel (Eds.), Advances in social theory and methodology: Toward an integration of micro- and macro-sociologies (pp. 161–174). Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  11. Ingraham, C. (1994). The heterosexual imaginary: Feminist sociology and theories of gender. Sociological Theory, 12(2), 203–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kollman, K. (2007). Same-sex unions: The globalization of an idea. International Studies Quarterly, 51, 329–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Laird, J. (1993). Lesbian and gay families. In F. Walsh & L. C. Wynne (Eds.), Normal family processes (pp. 282–328). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  14. Lau, Y. K. (2007). Parent-child relationships, parental relationships and children’s self-esteem in post-divorce families in HK. Marriage and Family Review, 42(4), 87–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lee, W. K. M. (2002). Gender ideology and the domestic division of labor in middle-class Chinese families in Hong Kong. Gender, Place and Culture, 9(3), 245–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lee, M. K., & Lu, S. H. (1997). The marriage institution in decline? In S. K. Lau et al. (Eds.), Indicators of social development: Hong Kong 1995 (pp. 183–201). Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  17. Leung, H. C., & Lee, K. M. (2005). Immigration controls, life-course coordination, and livelihood strategies: A study of families living across the Mainland-Hong Kong border. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 26(4), 387–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leung, B. K. P., Ng, C. H., Wong, T. W. P., Chu C. Y. W., & Chan A. K. W. (2003). Social cohesion and the Hong Kong family. Presented in the Conference on Social Cohesion, co-organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service. Retrieved August 8, 2009 from http://www.hku.hk/socsc/cosc/Full%20paper/Leung%20Benjamin_full.pdf.
  19. Morgan, D. (1999). Risk and family practices: Accounting for change and fluidity in family life. In E. B. Silva & C. Smart (Eds.), The new family (pp. 13–30). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Nari, P. M. (1992). That’s what friends are for: Friends as family in the lesbian and gay community. In K. Plummer (Ed.), Modern homosexualities: Fragments of lesbian and gay experience (pp. 108–120). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Nelson, F. (2001). Lesbian families. In B. J. Fox (Ed.), Family patterns, gender relations (pp. 441–457). Don Mills: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ng, C. H. (1995). Bringing women back in: Family change in Hong Kong. In V. Pearson & B. K. P. Leung (Eds.), Women in Hong Kong (pp. 74–100). Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Ritzer, G. (1997). Postmodern social theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  24. Shae, W. C., & Ho, K. L. (2001). Which direction is our family and family studies heading: From the traditional to the modern and the postmodern? Hong Kong Journal of Sociology, 2, 85–122 (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  25. Stacey, J. (1990). Brave new families: Stories of domestic upheaval in late Twentieth Century America. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  26. Stacey, J. (1996). In the name of the family: Rethinking family values in the postmodern age. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  27. Vance, C. S. (1995). Social construction theory and sexuality. In M. Berger, B. Wallis, & S. Watson (Eds.), Constructing masculinity (pp. 37–48). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Weeks, J., Heaphy, B., & Donovan, C. (2001). Same sex intimacies: Families of choice and other life experiments. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Weston, K. (1991). Families we choose: Lesbians, gays, kinship. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Wong, D. (2004a). From “happy marriage” to “happy divorce”. In K. W. Chan & C. T. Wong (Eds.), Hong Kong social policy review 2003 (pp. 111–132). Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong. In Chinese.Google Scholar
  31. Wong, D. (2004b). (Post-)Identity politics and anti-normalization: (Homo)sexual rights movement. In A. S. Ku & N. Pun (Eds.), Remaking citizenship in Hong Kong: Community, nation and the global city (pp. 195–214). London: RoutledgeCurzon.Google Scholar
  32. Wong, D. (2007). Rethinking the coming home alternative: Hybridization and coming out politics in Hong Kong’s anti-homophobia parades. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 8(4), 600–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wong, W. L. (2004). Male authority in cross-border families. In A. K. Chan & W. Wong (Eds.), Gendering Hong Kong (pp. 196–218). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong

Personalised recommendations