Sociology Of Chinese Migrant Women In Singapore

2483 words - 10 pages

HS3018: Sociology of Gender

Research Question: How migrant Chinese women cope with life in Singapore.

As a migrant nation, the issue of immigration has always been an immanent theme in Singapore. In recent years, migrant workers in Singapore have come under scrutiny due to the scale at which foreigners are entering the country, with almost 1.5 million non-residents living in Singapore making up more than a quarter of our population of 5.4 million (Ministry of Manpower, 2013) of which many are also new citizens and permanent residents, who might be considered outsiders in some contexts. This influx of foreigners has always been a hot topic in Singapore, ranging from the common discourse ...view middle of the document...

In contrast, many migrant Chinese women in recent years tend to be educated and come as skilled labor (Man, 2004; Zhang, 2003), hence they come in as supposed equals to Singaporeans qualifications-wise and are a better comparison to the experiences of Singaporean women. Furthermore, Chinese migrants find themselves in a unique position in Singapore. Coming to a country that shares their national language and is largely made up of ethnic Chinese, one would think the transition of Chinese nationals would be a smooth one and that they would be able to easily integrate themselves into our society. However that is far from the case in reality and sinophobia is a dominant theme in Singapore. Singaporean attitudes towards Chinese nationals can be summed up by the Ferrari accident back in 2012 in which a Chinese man driving a Ferrari hit a taxi killing two people and himself (Economic Observer, 2013). This incident sparked a wave of anti-Chinese resentment which honed in on how the reckless driving was symbolic of how the Chinese were bring in ‘bad culture’ that would dilute local culture as well as how foreigners are able to afford luxury cars by taking jobs and income from Singaporeans. These negative and distorted stereotypes perpetuated and brought to attention by the media has created a somewhat hostile environment for Chinese nationals more so than other immigrants and hence there should be more awareness to their predicaments. In particular, special attention should be paid to Chinese women as society is structured such that they bear a heavier burden of the brunt of migration and stigma.

Research Significance

Feminist literature regarding migration has highlighted the ways in which gender affects migration experience as well as how immigration has become increasingly feminized (Barber, 2000; Willis and Yeoh, 2000).  In particular, the way in which society is structure such that women are inherently tied to the household limits their agency as they are forced to make decisions in the context of the family. A woman’s migratory life is determined by the interdependent dual roles a woman plays in the family, having to juggle productive work and domestic duties (Hochshild and Machung, 1989). In contrast, migrant men only have to make decisions based on the economics and productivity. While some household maintenance can often be outsourced or shared between spouses, certain roles such as reproduction and child care are very much still seen as women’s burden. These family demands, namely pregnancy and the subsequent maternity child care is disruptive to women’s careers and goes against professional expectations, greatly hindering a woman’s ability to do both simultaneously (Bell, 2003). In short, men adapt family life to their careers while women have to adapt their careers to family demands. To cope with the conflict of roles, women often have to strategize and look for help outside the family, relying on formal and informal social networks to...

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