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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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Appendix II: The Research Methodology - 169


169 Appendix II: The Research Methodology Making Explicit “The Taken-for-Granted” In this book, following the proposal of Lareau and Weininger (2003), I define capital as evaluative norms that serve as symbolic markers for ex- clusion and inclusion. Unlike Lareau and Weininger who focused on how the dominant class imposes norms and standards to exclude non-dominant groups, I visualise a more ambiguous relationship between dominance and non-dominance, dominant groups and non-dominant groups. Focusing on the ambiguity and complexity Conflicts not only exist between dominant and non-dominant groups but also among non-dominant groups. For instance, in New Zealand, a prominent Maori professor, Ranganui Walker (1995) warns that the new wave of Asian immigrants could eventually swamp New Zealand as the European colonists did to Maori. On second thought, he adds that the consequences might not be “as disastrous for the nation as they have been for Maori” but negative outcomes of new Asian immigration “im- pinge on both Maori and Pakeha” (p. 28). Under this circumstance, an alliance between Maori and Pakeha was necessary to fight against the “Asian invasion”. The definition of alliance and enemy does not always remain the same. Throughout New Zealand history, Chinese ethnics have been ex- cluded from the mainstream society. Nonetheless, the success of Chinese New Zealanders as a model minority, namely social elevation through hard work and academic excellence exemplifies the ideal of “egalitarian- ism and meritocracy”. In this regard, “an alliance between Pakeha and Chinese … serves to legitimise the meritocracy myth …” (Yee, 2003, p....

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