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Whose culture has capital?

Class, culture, migration and mothering

Bin Wu

In no previous generation have so many educated Chinese women with young children immigrated to western countries. Whereas most of the existing research literature in this field tends to study Chinese immigrants in general, this book focuses on a group of skilled female migrant mothers in New Zealand. It aims at understanding the dilemmas and ambiguities particularly concerning skilled female migration: although they belonged to a privileged group in their native land, these women become members of a visible minority in the new country. Middle-class professionals in their birth country, they experience downward social mobility when taking on unskilled jobs in their adopted land; besides having to shoulder heavier domestic workloads as the traditional support for childcare is no longer available in New Zealand. Centering on their mothering practices, this book provides detailed descriptions of how mothers deploy various strategies to maximise the benefits for their children’s education amidst changes and readjustments after migration.

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Preface - 13

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13 Preface This book is about a group of skilled Chinese migrant mothers’1 experiences of raising their young children in New Zealand. It has mutated from my doc- toral thesis. I immigrated to New Zealand in 1995 under the General Cate- gory and gave birth to my first child in 1997. In the new country, to make a decent living for myself and my young child, I had to find a job. But having a young child and being a new Chinese migrant, there were very few choices of paid work that could accommodate childcare, allow me to have a reasonable income and pursue a career all at the same time. I started working in childcare and hoped it would reconcile my conflict- ing roles as a paid worker and unpaid mother. I became interested in the issues of women, motherhood, women’s work, and children. This interest had been a drive for me to undertake undergraduate and postgraduate stud- ies while working in various childcare centres, and later as a lecturer in ter- tiary education. During those years, my interest evolved and was eventually developed into a doctoral project. This book is intended for early childhood teachers, teacher educators, academics and anyone who is interested in the issues of migration and mothering. The first two chapters are concerned with the theoretical ele- ments of the study. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the study includ- ing the conceptual framework. Chapter 2 gives a brief introduction to the New Zealand early...

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