Taiwanese families are typically large and multigenerational, with each member playing an important function within the household. While the extended family has traditionally lived with the , increasing urbanisation and economic independence are steadily reducing the commonality of this household structure.
The Taiwanese tend to put great emphasis on maintaining respect and positive relationships amongst the family members. Much of this behaviour relates back to traditional or Confucian concepts. For example, being reciprocal towards one’s obligations to family members observes ‘guanxi’. Confucian roles are not strictly adhered to anymore, and the younger generation is becoming less family orientated. Nevertheless, children are still expected to obey and defer to their parents and honour their elders in almost all situations.
Older members of the family must still be supported and cared for. This is in accordance with , the Confucian tenet that stresses the importance of age. Due to , younger people will offer their seats to elders or wait for them before they begin a task such as eating. Respect for the elderly continues after they pass away through practices such as daily ancestral worship and the event known as Tomb Sweeping Day.
Although the value of equality is embodied in the region’s political system and universal education system, much of society is shaped by values. There remains a general expectation for women to care for children, whereas men are expected to generate most of the household income. Women work in every industry, yet are typically employed in lower-paid jobs. Nevertheless, this disparity is changing. There are increasing numbers of females holding political positions as well as starting and running their own businesses.
Relationships and Marriage
Traditionally, the most common form of marriage was by arrangement between two families through the use of a matchmaker. Often, a bride and groom would meet for the first time on their wedding day. In contemporary Taiwan, family and parental sanction of marriage still persist and often a matchmaker will be used to mediate the selection of a partner. Whilst the younger generation of Taiwanese have much more autonomy over their marriage arrangements, parents retain the right to counsel the marriage, and advice from parents is rarely ignored.
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