Gendering morality and providing a feminized ethics of care: Welfare, crises, and tình cảm in contemporary Vietnam

Helle Rydstrom


Focusing on welfare challenges and crises encountered by women in contemporary Vietnam, this article examines the gendering of morality and the ways in which a feminized ethics of care is entangled with women’s practice of the social capacity tình cảm (sentiments/feelings/emotions). Drawing on data from the Industrial Zones of northern Vietnam, the article highlights how low-income workers are rendered precarious in the Vietnamese semi-privatized welfare sector. The article shows how an inadequate public welfare system not only relies on, but even capitalizes on, a feminized ethics of care provided by women for kin and relatives in need of everyday support. Thus, shaped as an essentializing morality-defined female capacity, tình cảm is imposing pressure upon girls and women while also facilitating the building of social resilience with which they can mitigate and cope with care expectations, challenges, and crises.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/728982