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Straddling Two Worlds: The Transnational Migration of Chinese Luoshang (裸商)

Guo, Shengnan (2018) Straddling Two Worlds: The Transnational Migration of Chinese Luoshang (裸商). PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The thesis examines a new form of transnationalism increasingly visible since the early 21st century: the family migration of Chinese luoshang between mainland China and Canada. Luoshang is a popular Chinese term which describes a group of businessmen whose families have emigrated abroad taking with them fluid assets, whilst they themselves stay in mainland China to do business. The research aims to address the following questions: What are the characteristics of the Chinese luoshang, and what are the broader socio-economic change in China and Canada that luoshang’s transnationalism has reflected? In what ways is their transnational migration a household strategy, as well as a new lifestyle for the Chinese “new rich”, that is, the new middle class that have emerged through China’s recent development? How are their transnational familial and social lives practised, networks extended or constrained, and identity negotiated and renegotiated in these transnational social processes, spaces and dynamics across the Pacific? What are the consequences and implications of luoshang’s transnationalism for the family members involved? These research questions are tackled through applying combined theories of the new economics of migration, Bourdieu’s ideas of various “capitals”, and theories of transnationalism. Data was gathered through extensive multi-sited fieldwork in China and Canada by means of in-depth interviews and observations. The study finds that luoshang families’ transnational practices have led to a spreading of familial assets, a division of the site of production from that of consumption, a split of the family across the transnational social space, as well as a new lifestyle marked by broader choice and greater mobility beyond traditional national boundaries. It argues that although transnationalism is utilised by luoshang families as a flexible household and child-rearing arrangement to optimise perceived familial interests, geography and culture still matter in the everyday lives of transnational families. While stretching their social and kinship ties across the two continents and taking advantage of global opportunities, luoshang families have also faced huge dilemmas, ambiguities and unexpected risks. These include dislocations of identity and belonging, increases in social and relational distance, and exacerbation of gender and intergenerational inequalities and tensions. The thesis, as one of the first scholarly inquiries on the luoshang phenomenon, contributes to Chinese migration studies, shedding light on a new variation of Chinese transnational migration under dramatic socio-economic change both in China and globally. Additionally, uncovering the diversity and dynamics of Chinese luoshang families’ transnational experiences and linkages, the study enriches and broadens an understanding of an empirical transnationalism practised by global middle class trans-migrants.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Chinese migration, middling transnationalism, middle class household strategy, family splitting arrangement
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > East Asian Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Miss Shengnan Guo
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2018 11:44
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2018 11:44
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20793

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