From purification of "sins" to negotiation of boundaries: exploring assimilation of children of Mainland new arrivals in Hong Kong secondary school context

  • Ping Lam Ip

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This study aims to enrich existing local sociological literatures on Mainland new arrivals by exploring the assimilation of their children, including 1.5 generation born in Mainland China and second generation born in Hong Kong. In particular, it focuses on the everyday schooling experiences of children of Mainland new arrivals, such as their learning experiences, their relationship with school or teachers, and their everyday communication with peers. Combining Michele Lamont's concept of boundary and Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of field and capitals with contemporary assimilation theories in the U.S., this study conceptualizes assimilation as a multidimensional process through which migrants and their subsequent generations use different available strategies and capitals to adopt, negotiate, and draw boundaries in various social fields in order to be recognized members of the host community they are living in. Drawing on 11 in-depth interviews with children of Mainland new arrivals studying in secondary school, this study finds that, contrary to the oppressive experiences of first generation Mainland new arrivals especially mothers, second / 1.5 generations have more room or structurally enabled agency to negotiate rather than simply adopt boundaries defining "us" and "other" in the school context. This can be seen, for example, when second and 1.5 generation students alike actively use and modify social meanings represented in cultural products such as electronic games and TV programs to draw boundaries to build and sustain peer relationship in school.

Date of Award20 Jul 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorYin Wah CHU (Supervisor)

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Education
  • Hong Kong
  • Social conditions
  • Children of immigrants
  • Teenage immigrants

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