Education About Asia: Online Archives

Entrepreneurial Families in Việt Nam: Controversial Symbols of Moral Dilemmas in Changing Times

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By Ann Marie Leshkowich

In late 1990s Việt Nam, urban areas such as Hồ Chí Minh City (formerly known as Sài Gòn) bustled with private entrepreneurship, and the ranks of conspicuously consuming middle classes swelled. As desirable as this development may have been, it made many urbanites, cultural critics, commentators, and government officials profoundly uneasy. Would markets, individualism, consumerism, and globalization wreak havoc with traditional moral values and family relationships? Would middle class parents give children lots of things, but neglect them in other ways? What would happen to family relationships as parents worked longer hours? Would unsupervised children get drawn into sex, drugs, and other aspects of urban street culture? Would the extended Vietnamese family disappear, taking with it values such as filial piety?