“It’s Not Discrimination”: Chinese Migrant Workers’ Perceptions of and Reactions to Racial Microaggressions in Australia

Yao-Tai LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Racial microaggressions appear in different forms and affect racial and ethnic groups through everyday practices. We know little, however, about how racial microaggressions are perceived and operate in the context of institutionalized racism. In an immigration context, the structural mechanisms that influence migrant workers’ interpretations of racial microaggressions remain understudied. This article examines job-search processes, self-perceptions of foreign-ness, group interactions, and work experiences of Chinese migrant workers in Australia. I argue that the intersection of foreign-ness, human capital, and migrant status reflects structural inequality in the field of overseas employment, which involves an ideological system that reminds migrant workers of their differences/otherness when racial microaggressions happen. The intersection also influences how migrant workers interpret and react to such microaggressions. Meanwhile, workplace relations and interaction patterns ease tensions between advantaged and disadvantaged groups, yet persistent racial stereotypes and unequal race relations are maintained in everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-571
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Perspectives
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Australia
  • Chinese migrant workers
  • employment relationship
  • institutionalized racism
  • racial microaggressions

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