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Farming for Respect

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Farming for Respect

An Ethnographic Study of Mainland Migrant Mothers in Hong Kong



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Farming for Respect by Christine Wong
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This dissertation, "Farming for Respect: an Ethnographic Study of Mainland Migrant Mothers in Hong Kong" by Christine, Wong, 黃惠菁, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: As the number of mainland migrant mothers in Hong Kong grows, the social tension between migrants and locals increases, reflecting a need to understand the deeper inherent issues leading to the manifestation of this tension. This understanding should go beyond the surface of media portrayal or stereotypical images of migrant mothers. While a great number of local research related to mainland migration issues exists in Hong Kong, few focus specifically on the aspect of motherhood amongst mainland migrant women. Mainland migrant mothers are uprooted from their rural villages to a highly westernized city where they find immense difficulty in transplanting their maternal roots. Although people in Hong Kong are predominately Chinese, it is highly influenced by its colonial past making the culture in Hong Kong a hybrid of westernized Chinese values. This cultural context has great bearings on how migrant mothers interpret motherhood expectations and traditional Chinese values with reference to mother-child relationships. How such dynamic changes in mothering culture affect migrant women's maternal identities are examined. This research studies the interpretations, rationalizations and strategies involved in the negotiation of maternal identity of financially deprived mainland migrant women in Hong Kong. More importantly, this research appreciates migrant mothers' needs to reconsider Chinese mothering values as they negotiate their identities in a new land. Migrant mothers navigate the westernized-Chinese expectations of local motherhood and redefine what constitutes good mothering, giving new denotations to traditional Chinese values such as xiao, or filial piety. I divided the discussion of this thesis into three domains: (1) to examine mainland migrant mothers in the wider context of Hong Kong, including schools and welfare institutions; (2) to understand how migration and poverty affect maternal identity in terms of their relationships with their children and finally (3) to study migrant mothers' behavior among their own social groups and how social relationships become conducive to their identity negotiation strategies. Hinged upon the practicalities of life, migrant mothers learn to navigate local motherhood expectations with limited resources and little relevant knowledge about the city. This study illustrates the intricate strategies that migrant mothers deploy as they construct identities based not only on the gap between Hong Kong and traditional mainland motherhoods, but also according to changing social context and culture. DOI: 10.5353/th_b5194794 Subjects: Motherhood - China - Hong KongWomen immigrants - China - Hong Kong
Release date NZ
January 26th, 2017
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Country of Publication
United States
colour illustrations
Open Dissertation Press
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