'Astronaut' wives : their experiences in Brisbane

Chang, Man Wai. (2004). 'Astronaut' wives : their experiences in Brisbane MPhil Thesis, School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Chang, Man Wai.
Thesis Title 'Astronaut' wives : their experiences in Brisbane
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2004-10-19
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Yvonne Darlington
Total pages 150
Collection year 2004
Language eng
Subjects 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations
L
370100 Sociology
750306 Ethnicity and multiculturalism
Formatted abstract

Based on in-depth interviews with five Hong Kong Chinese women immigrants in Brisbane, this thesis examines the effects of 'astronaut' migration on the wellbeing of these women in terms of the changes brought to their family roles. 'Astronaut' migration refers to the settlement pattern of Hong Kong and Taiwan people who immigrated to Australia, Canada, New Zealand during the 1980s and 1990s. The breadwinners of these families return to the places of origin for their business or career, with their wives responsible for most of the childcare and home management duties in the host country. The men visit their wives and children a few times a year. Being frequent flyers, they are referred to as 'astronauts'. 

By means of snowball sampling, I have interviewed five 'astronaut' wives who have lived in Brisbane for more than three years. They talked freely about the changes to their family roles brought about by 'astronaut' migration. 

Much literature on migration states that women immigrants are in an oppressed position. They are usually regarded as the victims in the migration process, suffering from employment instability, demanding childcare and domestic duties and loss of family support. However, the respondents in this study presented different stories. 

It was found that though political uncertainty of Hong Kong beyond 1997 was the main reason for their decision to emigrate, most respondents chose to stay on even after they had obtained Australian passports. They enjoyed their new life in Brisbane in spite of the separation from their husbands. Originating from middle-class Hong Kong families, these respondents had strong financial backup that freed them from the struggle between paid-work and childcare demands. They enjoyed freedom that they might not have experienced in the traditional Hong Kong patriarchal family system. Changes in family roles and responsibilities did bring pressure but migration was in general favorable to them. 

Keyword Chinese -- Australia
Women immigrants -- Australia
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