Brave Settlers in a Model Minority Land: An Ethnography Exploring Dynamics of Socioeconomic Class and Educational Experiences among Chinese Immigrants in a Midwest Town
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This dissertation draws from a three-year ethnographic study that focused on the educational and community interactions among working- and middle-class ethnic Chinese immigrants in the United States. The study extends research situated within larger global flows of Chinese immigrants and focuses on how the intersectionality of class and the complexities of Chineseness (Ong, 1999) in local and national discourses shape these immigrants� lived experiences in a Midwestern community. First, the dissertation explores how Chinese immigrants� original socioeconomic class shapes not only each group�s access to cultural capital but also their relational positions, cultural logics, and practices regarding their children�s educational experiences. Second, the research explores the idea that, while middle-class immigrants better match the class norms and discourses of the dominant society, both middle- and working-class Chinese immigrants have to negotiate national, community, and educational conceptions of the model minority (Lee, 1996); however, these groups enact the conceptions differently based on their access to cultural capital (Bourdieu, 2007). Third, the study traces how class serves to fragment common national and local conceptions of Chinese immigrants as a homogenous �model minority� group (Hartlep, 2013) that is often invisible in the processes of social reproduction. The study examines how the model-minority and normative ideologies shaping ethnic Chinese immigrants� cultural logics and educational experiences and the community and school structures contribute to social reproduction on the basis of class.
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