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Construction and transformation of identity and power relationship : mainland Chinese women immigrants in Vancouver Zhang, Yujie

Abstract

This study is an attempt to examine contemporary Chinese women immigrants from Mainland China and their adaptation into Canadian society. In this locally based research, I focus on how Chinese women integrate into Canadian society as immigrants; how they identify themselves in the new social context; what factors affect their identification; and how inherent power relationships between men and women within Chinese society have been redefined and transformed as the immigrant women assert themselves in the new society in response to new opportunities and obligations that are presented to them. This study is based on a series of face-to-face interviews that were chosen through snowball sampling method. 20 interviews were conducted and the data were qualitatively analyzed. I found that changes occurred with their multiple identities, which include class identity, ethnic and cultural identity, and gender identity. Most women experienced downward mobility in social and economic status after immigration due to lack of appropriate positions in the labor market and also the feeling of a lack of power as a consequence of ethnic minority membership; almost all of them have bidimentional cultural identity which means they identify with some aspects of Canadian culture while maintaining their Chinese culture of origin; and traditional Chinese gender ideology still plays a main role in redefining.gender identity which is embodied in the immigration decisions and the conflict between family and occupation. Economic, educational, occupational, social and relational power resources are factors affecting the transformation and redefinition of the power relationship between husband and wife. These factors work together in changing the allocation of power resources between husband and wife and affect the decision making process within a family.

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