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Intergenerational solidarity and identity dynamics in migration: Self-construction through trials

Authors
  • LI, Yong
Publication Date
Mar 21, 2019
Source
HAL
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown
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Abstract

Chinese families today express both family solidarity and individual dynamism at a high level. But how can solidarity give rise to individuality in the situation of migration? Based on a longitudinal survey of the life courses of Chinese student migrants who came to France in the 2000s and who stayed in the host country to work, our presentation attempts to analyze this moral economy within the Chinese family that has made the quest for self both possible and necessary for young migrants. In China, we are witnessing an almost totally constrained individualization giving rise to the cult of excellence through educational and professional achievements. Young Chinese students consider their studies abroad as a project of self-transformation by meeting the norms of autonomy. Their parents invest heavily in their education project and continue to support them during their stay abroad.This infallible support creates not only a sense of gratitude, but also a moral obligation for success among young Chinese. On all levels: studies, work, marriage, education of their own children ... In the context of economic and social crises, the increase in ethnoracial inequalities in France, many Chinese graduates, even if they come from elite universities, find themselves in a double bind situation between the need to succeed and the impossibility of doing it in the prescribed forms. When the goals set at the beginning are not achieved, the identity negotiations between parents and children become difficult, especially when the sacrifices made by the parents were important. Some then try to escape this injunction to succeed by evoking a western ideal of emancipation, claiming fidelity to oneself. Paradoxically, family solidarity has ended up generating, through a multitude of trials, identity dynamics among young migrants who put forward their identities for oneself, rather than their identities for others.

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