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ln spite of the complexity of such dynamic relationships in the caregiving system, the literature shows that dominant research paradigm has places elderly care in the framework of a simple, unqualified social exchange theory. The primary goal of this paper to critique research approach based on the social exchange theory. First, we wish to discuss how the exchange theory lies at the heart of the debate between the proponents and opponents of having family members as the primary care providers for elderly. We wish to review the basic assumptions that social exchange theory holds about caregiving relationships. Second, we suggest that focusing on the perceptions and expectations between the elderly person and his/her caretaker may instead be a more valuable approach to understanding the caregiving relationship. Here we submit that an example of the perception-expectation approach is reflected in the “secondary baby talk” between caregiver and the elderly. Third, we wish to discuss how such an approach may provide insight into a range of culturally variant behaviors for family members who are caring for elderly.


CPPS Working Paper Series No.63

Recommended Citation

Hong, Y.-y., & Liu, W. T. (1997). Generational dependency and elderly care: A psychological interpretation of cultural norms and exchange (CPPS Working Papers Series no.63). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: