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Putting the Family First: Chinese Wives’ Stories of Migration to Britain

Wei, Wenchao (2011) Putting the Family First: Chinese Wives’ Stories of Migration to Britain. PhD thesis, University of York.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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With the increasing outflow of migrants from mainland China, many professional Chinese men have been coming to Britain for further education and employment. Their wives frequently give up their own jobs and come to the UK as following spouses, in order to assist their husbands with their educational and career advancement. Little research has been done on Chinese women overseas in general, and there are even fewer studies on Chinese trailing wives. The aim of my thesis is to apply feminist perspectives to interpret the migration experiences of these Chinese wives. Drawing upon interviews with 22 Chinese wives, I explore and interpret the data to reveal the importance of wifely duty during four different stages of their migration process: their deliberations about coming to Britain, their efforts to set up new homes, their financial and emotional support of their husbands and their becoming family dependants after their husbands’ careers are established in the UK. In analysing the interview material, I drew on Delphy and Leonard’s account of the marriage contract and the exploitation of women’s labour in the family. I argue that, as these women are followers in the migration process, they prioritised the interest of the family. By viewing this migration as a contract; they saw their investment in their husbands as a way to further the interests of the family as a whole. Their internalised traditional roles led to their achievement of self-realisation through the success of their husbands/family. These women’s ‘self-sacrifice’, in turn, bound them more tightly to their traditional roles in the family and to their subordinate status.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.538646
Depositing User: Dr Wenchao Wei
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2011 10:24
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 12:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1578

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