1st Edition

Interpreting the Chinese Diaspora Identity, Socialisation, and Resilience According to Pierre Bourdieu

By Guanglun Michael Mu, Bonnie Pang Copyright 2019
    178 Pages
    by Routledge

    178 Pages
    by Routledge

    Globalisation and migration have created a vibrant yet dysphoric world fraught with different, and sometimes competing, practices and discourses. The emergent properties of the modern world inevitably complicate the being, doing, and thinking of Chinese diasporic populations living in predominantly white, English-speaking societies. This raises questions of what 'Chineseness' is. The gradual transfer of power from the West to the East shuffles the relative cultural weights within these societies. How do the global power shifts and local cultural vibrancies come to shape the social dispositions and positions of the Chinese diaspora, and how does the Chinese diaspora respond to these changes? How does primary pedagogic work through family upbringing and secondary pedagogic work through educational socialisation complicate, obfuscate, and enrich Chineseness?

    Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive sociology on relative and relational sociocultural positions, Mu and Pang assess how historical, contemporary, and ongoing changes across social spaces of family, school, and community come to shape the intergenerational educational, cultural, and social reproduction of Chinese diasporic populations. The two authors engage in an in-depth analysis of the identity work, educational socialisation, and resilience building of young Chinese Australians and Chinese Canadians in the ever-changing lived world. The authors look particularly at the tensions and dynamics around the participants’ life and educational choices; the meaning making out of their Chinese bodies in relation to gender, race, and language; and the sociological process of resilience that enculturates them into a system of dispositions and positions required to bounce back from structural constraints.


    1. Chapter One: Approaching Chinese diaspora and Pierre Bourdieu
    2. Chapter Two: Looking Chinese and learning Chinese as a Heritage Language: Habitus realisation within racialised social fields
    3. Chapter Three: Young Chinese girls’ aspirations in sport: Gendered practices within Chinese families
    4. Chapter Four: Understanding the public pedagogies on Chinese gendered and racialised bodies
    5. Chapter Five: Reconciling the different logic of practice between Chinese students and parents in a transnational era
    6. Chapter Six: Coming into a cultural inheritance: Building resilience through primary socialisation
    7. Chapter Seven: Resilience to racial discrimination within the field of secondary socialisation: The role of school staff support
    8. Chapter Eight: Does Chineseness equate with mathematics competence? Resilience to racialised stereotype
    9. Chapter Nine: Recapitulating Chinese diaspora and sociologising diasporic self



    Guanglun Michael Mu is Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. His work in this book was supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellowship at Queensland University of Technology and the Australian Research Council grant DE180100107 (Resilience, Culture, and Class: A Sociological Study of Australian Students).

    Bonnie Pang is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom (2019–2020), Senior Lecturer and a school-based member of the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, Australia.

    ‘What binds us together and what walls us apart across borders, generations and geographies? In an era of increasingly shrill nationalism and geopolitical conflict, understanding diasporic community, identity and position is more crucial than ever. This new volume is a major sociological contribution to our understanding of 'overseas' Chinese communities.’ - Allan Luke, Emeritus Professor, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

    ‘This is a highly ambitious book, aiming to develop a critical sociology of Chinese diaspora by applying, for the first time, Bourdieu’s influential reflexive sociology to understanding the social experiences and practices of diasporic Chinese communities in the West. Drawing on a wealth of empirical research – both quantitative and qualitative – among young Chinese in Canada and Australia, the book places these young people’s identity work, educational trajectories, and resilience building in response to structural societal constraints (such as racism) in a broad sociological framework which transcends macro perspectives on diaspora and micro perspectives on the formation of Chinese subjectivities through Bourdieu’s conceptual apparatus of capital, field and habitus. In this way the book develops pertinent new insights into the contradictory meanings and experiences shared by many among Chinese diasporic subjects, such as ‘looking Chinese but not speaking Chinese’, the entrapments of inhabiting gendered and racialized bodies, family pressure in schooling, and their responses to racist stereotypes of Chineseness.’ - Ien Ang, Distinguished Professor, Western Sydney University, Australia

    ‘The bold collaboration of two exciting scholars provides convincing evidence of the relevance of Bourdieu to an emerging area of study on diasporic Chinese youth. Mu and Pang draw on diverse studies in Australia and Canada to enrich our understanding of family, comm