Migration and masculinities: experiences of recent Chinese male migrants in Brisbane

Hibbins, Raymond Thomas (2000). Migration and masculinities: experiences of recent Chinese male migrants in Brisbane PhD Thesis, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland.

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Author Hibbins, Raymond Thomas
Thesis Title Migration and masculinities: experiences of recent Chinese male migrants in Brisbane
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Science
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2000
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor David F. Ip
Total pages 305
Language eng
Subjects 200208 Migrant Cultural Studies
379901 Gender Specific Studies
750306 Ethnicity and multiculturalism
Formatted abstract This study has aimed at tracing the effects of migration on constructions of masculinities among Chinese male migrants in Australia. As no studies of this type have been undertaken in Austraha despite the waves of migrants of diverse ethnicities over the past half-century, this work will contribute to the body of knowledge on gender identities and migration. The study adopts a qualitative methodology where data collected in semi-structured, in-depth interviews were managed and analysed using the qualitative software package Atlas/ti. This package facilitated the processes of coding and memoing and the development of conceptual and theoretical networks.

These male migrants of mainly middle-class professional backgrounds have lived in Australia for various lengths of time and vary in age from 19 years to 58 years. They are part of the skilled and relatively highly educated Chinese diaspora which, despite its ethnicity, has its origins in several different countries. Several of these males are gay and single but the majority are heterosexual, married and have children either bom in Australia or overseas. Most of these Chinese migrants are either engineers, importers-exporters or involved with the information technology or hospitality industries. Several are academics employed in tertiary education.

For most of these males, unlike their non-Chinese peers in Australia, gender and sexual behaviour are not central to their lives. Hard work, educational achievement, accumulation of wealth and responsibilities for family are central to their lives and important markers of manhood. Sport, recreation and leisure are secondary in their lives except as diversion from hard work or as a form of social interaction assisting in the development of business connections. These males are insular, have little knowledge of Ausfralian masculinities except for stereotypes, are sexually conservative, and perceive the consumption of alcohol, sport participation and spectatorship and the development of large, well-muscled bodies as unimportant to their gender identities. Gay men are the exception in terms of their emphasis on sexual behaviour and the importance of particular body types and physical attractiveness.

Most of these males have not become more sensitised to sexual or gender identities since migration and have been able to protect the traditional patriarchy by remaining insular during the settlement process. In very few cases has there been a change in the domestic division of labour and most of these males prefer to be the sole provider and are ambivalent about spouses working. Even the younger males who see some economic necessity for their spouses to work have negative attitudes to this activity. Previous migration experiences, especially for those who migrated elsewhere for primary or secondary education, appear to be significant for some of the males who played sport and engaged in sexual activities with non-Chinese women. Most of these males, however, have returned to more traditional Chinese male practices in terms of involvement with Chinese women, sexual conservativeness and being the sole family provider.

Unlike Western males, these Chinese males with very few exceptions place no emphasis on gender and sexual identities and the Western concept of masculinity has little applicability for them. In most cases these Chinese men in Australia appear to be different from their Asian American peers (as reported in the North American literature) who seem to be more sensitised to sexual and gender identities.

The findings of this study of the reconstructions of male gender identity during the settlement process in Australia indicate that the markers of masculinity for Australian males have little relevance for these Chinese male migrants. The masculinities of these migrant males are reinforced in the family and Chinese social networks that emphasise hard work, educational achievement and the accumulafion of wealth. Mutual reinforcement is afforded the patriarchy by the practices of these males in their families. The results of this study clearly demonstrate that a new men's studies or a sociology of masculinities must employ concepts which display a greater cultural awareness and sensitivity, or masculinity studies will remain ethnocentric and in the morass of being applicable to less than five percent of men. Further, this new direction must be led by work that concentrates on the subjective experiences of men in the context of their lived worlds.
Keyword Chinese -- Brisbane
Masculinity
Ethnicity
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

 
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