Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US

Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US

by Pei-Chia Lan


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Public discourse on Asian parenting tends to fixate on ethnic culture as a static value set, disguising the fluidity and diversity of Chinese parenting. Such stereotypes also fail to account for the challenges of raising children in a rapidly modernizing world, full of globalizing values. In Raising Global Families, Pei-Chia Lan examines how ethnic Chinese parents in Taiwan and the United States negotiate cultural differences and class inequality to raise children in the contexts of globalization and immigration. She draws on a uniquely comparative, multisited research model with four groups of parents: middle-class and working-class parents in Taiwan, and middle-class and working-class Chinese immigrants in the Boston area. Despite sharing a similar ethnic cultural background, these parents develop class-specific, context-sensitive strategies for arranging their children's education, care, and discipline, and for coping with uncertainties provoked by their changing surroundings. Lan's cross-Pacific comparison demonstrates that class inequality permeates the fabric of family life, even as it takes shape in different ways across national contexts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781503605909
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 07/17/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,242,651
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Pei-Chia Lan is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at National Taiwan University. She is the author of Global Cinderellas: Migrant Domestics and Newly Rich Employers in Taiwan (2006), which won the ASA Distinguished Book Award.

Table of Contents

Contents and Abstracts

Introduction: Anxious Parents in Global Times
chapter abstract

This chapter starts with vignettes that demonstrate a variety of class-specific practice Chinese parenting across the Pacific and situates this study in three sets of literature: parenting and ethnic culture, immigrant parenting, and parenting and social class. The chapter introduces the approach of transnational relational analysis to examine how parents develop strategic actions and emotional experiences of childrearing in relation to other parents. It also proposes the concept of global security strategy to examine how parents reflect upon their class experience in relation to globalization and immigration to evaluate the challenges in the family's present and their children's future; their particular views of globalized risk direct them to engage in spatial and cultural (im)mobility to create and maintain their perceived ideas of family security.

1Transpacific Flows of Ideas and People
chapter abstract

Chapter 1 overviews the transpacific movement of ideas and resources that facilitated the spatial and cultural mobilities of Taiwanese and immigrant parents across historical periods: the geopolitical and immigration links between Taiwan and the United States after World War II, Taiwan's changing scripts of parenting and transnational cultural circuits since the 1990s, immigration from postreform China to Taiwan and the United States, and the current global economy and the increase of "ancestral homeland migration" among the second generation. Transnationalism from both above and below alters the family lives of those who move overseas and of those who stay in the country of origin. Repertoires of childrearing are changing as a result of time-space compression and global-local entanglements, but these changes reach parents unevenly across the class spectrum.

2Taiwanese Middle Class: Raising Global Children
chapter abstract

Chapter 2 describes the global security strategies of middle-class parents who have achieved intergenerational mobility and enjoyed material gains and flexible mobility in the globalized economy. They lament their own loss of childhood in the past and worry about uncertainties in their children's future. To safeguard their children's happiness and creativeness, these privileged parents mobilize their economic and cultural capitals to exit the local education system or to advocate for reform. Many adopt the strategy of cultivating global competitiveness by choosing elite schools and cultivating Western cultural capital, and some pursue a strategy of orchestrating natural growth by seeking out a Western model of alternative education as a form of cultural mobility.

3Taiwanese Working Class: Affirming Parental Legitimacy
chapter abstract

Chapter 3 looks into the security strategies of working-class parents. Less-educated Taiwanese men have encountered stagnant mobility in the globalized economy; some seek transnational unions to escape their disadvantaged status in the local marriage market. With the new middle-class ideals of parental competency promoted by Taiwan's government and school, working-class parents, including immigrant mothers, suffer from a decline in parental legitimacy. Some parents reinforce harsh discipline to claim legitimacy while others outsource education to improve their children's opportunities for class mobility.

4Immigrant Middle Class: Raising Confident Children
chapter abstract

US immigration is generally viewed as a pathway to social mobility by people in Taiwan and China, but many immigrants experience otherwise. Even highly educated professionals, men in particular, may encounter racial discrimination and blocked mobility at American workplaces. Chapter 4 describes the security strategies of highly educated immigrants who share a narrative of declining cultural confidence. Their security strategies center on how to protect or achieve a sense of confidence among second-generation youth in a context of racial inequality. Some parents arrange "Americanized" extracurricular activities to orchestrate children's "competitive assimilation," whereas the others mobilize their homeland culture and transnational educational resources to cultivate ethnic cultural capital among the second generation.

5Immigrant Working Class: Reframing Family Dynamics
chapter abstract

Chapter 5 describes the cultural negotiation and security strategies of working-class Chinese immigrants who lack English skills, local ties, and US-recognized degrees and thus suffer from some degree of downward mobility. Their narratives of parenting insecurity center on a decline in their parental authority, especially because corporal punishment is not recognized as a legitimate tool of child discipline in many parts of the United States. Some try to project an "American" outlook on their family lives by either interpreting the reversed dynamics of parent-child relations as an indicator of cultural assimilation or attending parenting seminars to learn about American knowledge and techniques of childrearing. The others seek resources from immigrant communities or transnational kin networks to sustain the ethnic practices of education, care, and discipline.

Conclusion: In Search of Security
chapter abstract

The conclusion compares the global security strategies among Taiwanese and immigrant parents across the class spectrum and identifies visible and invisible social connections between these four groups of parents. It ends by discussing the theoretical and practical lessons we can learn from this research: why and how the global security strategies of childrearing unwittingly magnify parental insecurities and class injustice.

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