Moral hierarchies within autism parenting: Making parent-therapists and perpetuating disparities within contemporary China
Author(s)Lin, Emily Xi
MetadataShow full item record
Drawing upon 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in China from 2013 to 2014, this article argues that moral hierarchies within autism parenting in fact reproduce local socioeconomic inequalities. In China, medical specialists, special education teachers and prominent parent advocates attempt to manage autism in a context of scarce resources by teaching parents how to serve as their children’s lifelong therapists. Yet, by focusing primarily on parents’ love for their children, while neglecting pragmatic issues related to social–economic disparities, autism advocates fail to understand the difficulties of parents with few socioeconomic resources. I illustrate my arguments by delving deeply into two case studies which illustrate both extremes of the moral hierarchy in autism parenting within China. In ethnographically attending to how parents are made into behavioral therapists and the moral hierarchies within autism parenting in China, this paper describes a culturally specific adoption of ABA. This article argues that scholars and local disability advocates need to pay closer attention to local particularities, including cultural histories of parenting, as well as the complex interactions between disability and social and economic inequalities, so as to better comprehend and address the immediate, existential, and long-range challenges which parents with little social capital face in managing autism.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Lin, Emily Xi. "Moral hierarchies within autism parenting: Making parent-therapists and perpetuating disparities within contemporary China." BioSocieties 14, 2 (June 2018): 155–178 © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Ltd
Author's final manuscript