Gendered differences in family reunion motivations, female-breadwinning status and spousal gender relations in young African migrant households in Hong Kong

Bamidele Emmanuel Ola

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Little is known about gender relations in young African migrant families residing in Hong Kong (HK). This study aims to present a first-hand account of daily lived experiences of African international doctoral student couples residing in HK, with special emphases on their Africa–HK migratory motivations, perceptions of female-breadwinning status, the effects of HK Immigration policy on marital power structures and the influence of spousal relative statuses (“breadwinner” versus “dependent”) on couples gender role performances and decision-making participations.

Design/methodology/approach: This study used ethnographic method involving several indoor family visits, non-participant observations and 21 in-depth interviews in six African student families. Fieldnotes were taken and interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and interpreted using thematic content analysis.

Findings: Couples, especially dependent men, had a hard time deciding to migrate to HK for family reunion, unlike dependent women who willingly resigned to join their husbands in HK. Among the male dependents, the main reasons for migrating included anticipated economic returns, while women migrated in response to neolocal cultural expectations. Overall, patriarchy persisted – while men had the final say over key household decision-making domains, women remained primary performers of household chores, but manifested little bargaining power, restraining husband’s ability to spend family income when they are the family’s sole-earners. Women’s relative breadwinning status had very minimal significant impact.

Originality/value: To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of HK’s immigration policy on married African students’ migration motivations and the effects of female-breadwinning status on spousal gender relations in HK’s African student migrant households.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Transformations in Chinese Societies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jan 2023

User-Defined Keywords

  • Hong Kong immigration policy
  • Migration motivation
  • Gender roles
  • African international doctoral student migrants
  • Hong Kong

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