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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, multi-sited 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 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.
"Pei-Chia Lan makes an extraordinary contribution to contemporary scholarship on parenting strategies by demonstrating how ethnic culture and social class interact within four different social groups spanning two geographic regions. As she does, she illuminates complex processes such as globalization and transnationalism, making this a superb book for classroom use."
—Margaret K. Nelson, author of Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times
"Raising Global Families dispels the myth of the tiger mom, telling a compelling story of parenting that is less about unique cultures than about the forces of globalization. Through thoughtful and meticulous analysis of ethnographic data in transnational contexts, Pei-Chia Lan demonstrates how Chinese parents in Taiwan and the United States cope with their intensified feelings of ambivalence and insecurity and how this surfaces in childrearing. This study advances the understanding of parenting beyond the family and local milieus."
—Min Zhou, University of California, Los Angeles
"Lan's insightful and skillfully-written book offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of Taiwanese families in Taiwan and the United States who endeavor to raise upwardly-mobile children. This is a must-read for all who seek to understand family, class, and mobility in the age of global capitalism."
—Carolyn Chen, University of California, Berkeley
Migrant women are the primary source of paid domestic workers around the world. Since the 1980s, the newly prosperous countries of East Asia have recruited foreign household workers at a rapidly increasing rate. Many come from the Philippines and Indonesia. Pei-Chia Lan interviewed and spent time with dozens of Filipina and Indonesian domestics working in and around Taipei as well as many of their Taiwanese employers. Based on the vivid ethnographic detail she collected, Lan provides a nuanced look at how global inequalities are enacted in private households. She also sheds light on the fate of the workers, “global Cinderellas” who seek an escape from poverty at home only to find themselves treated as disposable labor abroad.
Lan demonstrates how economic disparities, immigration policies, race, ethnicity, and gender intersect in the relationship between the employees and their Taiwanese employers. The employers are eager to flex their newly acquired financial muscle; many are first-generation career women as well as first-generation employers. The domestics are recruited from abroad as contract and “guest” workers; restrictive immigration policies prohibit them from seeking permanent residence or transferring from one employer to another. They take care of Taiwanese families’ children, often having left their own behind. While many of the domestics, particularly the Filipinas, are well educated, they are expected to act deferentially at work. Throughout Global Cinderellas, Lan pays particular attention to how the women she studied identify themselves in relation to “others”—whether they be of different classes, nationalities, ethnicities, or education levels. In so doing, she offers a framework for thinking about how migrant workers and their employers understand themselves in the midst of dynamic transnational labor flows.
“This path-breaking study illustrates how boundaries—of race, class, gender, and citizenship—are imposed on migrant domestic workers. Pei-Chia Lan’s use of boundary-making as the lens through which to analyze the integration of migrant domestic workers is a very important contribution to the burgeoning field of the feminization of migration. This is a brilliant book.”
—Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, author of Children of Global Migration: Transnational Families and Gendered Woes
“We might imagine that the more contact we have with others across the globe the closer our social bonds. But, as Pei-Chia Lan so ably shows, we would be sadly wrong about that. In some ways the madams of Taiwan are ‘close’ to their maids from the Philippines, but in other ways they are very distant from them. Indeed, in some cases the closer we are, the more distant. Just how this works out is the subject of this clearly written, trenchantly argued, hugely important, must-read book.”
—Arlie Russell Hochschild, coeditor of Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy
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