- Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US by Pei-Chia Lan
Pei-Chia Lan has returned with her new book, Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US, a decade after she wooed the research field with her previous worldly acclaimed and prizewinning book on migrant female domestic helpers, Global Cinderellas: Migrant Domestics and Newly Rich Employers in Taiwan (2006).
Raising Global Families counters the stereotype of Asian parenting, such as the strict Chinese "tiger mom"—often presented in contrast to "Western" style parenting—and reveals the complexities of class inequality and cultural negotiations in the contexts of globalization and immigration. Childrearing in a globalized world is characterized by what Lan names "global security strategies," the coping strategies to navigate transnational mobility and negotiate cultural boundaries for mitigating insecurities and anxieties conditioned by economic inequality in local and transnational contexts. Lan stretches Marianne Cooper's "security projects" on a transnational scale to critically investigate different ways of "doing securities"—the ways in which parents react to emotions of ambivalence and insecurity caused by future uncertainties which are now exacerbated by transnationalism—through comparing immigrant families with their counterpart in the home country. Her ideas are supported by the multi-sited comparative study on parenting strategies of four groups of parents: middle-class parents in Taiwan, working-class Taiwanese and immigrant parents in Taiwan, and middle-class Chinese [End Page 125] and Taiwanese immigrant parents in Boston area, as well as their working-class counterparts. Lan observed and conducted interviews with 80 parents from 57 families in Taiwan and the United States between 2010 to 2013. In Raising Global Families, Lan applies transnational relational analysis to provide a nuanced discussion on these seemingly isolated groups of parents who are structurally interconnected through their uneven links to globalization and the intersectionality of gender and class. Drawing on Bourdieu's idea that social classes are constructed in relation to each other, her study makes prominent that the parents' class-based uneven capacities result in diverse global security strategies in the processes of fostering global children in the receiving country. Depending on disparate sources of insecurities and resources available, the four researched groups of parents grew distinct strategies while redefining and renegotiating parenting in changing surroundings: cultivating Western cultural capital, natural growth as problem, cultivating ethnic cultural capital, and natural growth as assimilation. These different strategies separate parents by social class. Yet, Lan claims, their global security strategies are not always successful and often unintentionally lead to paradoxical consequences.
The first chapter of the book starts with the historical explanations of the ways in which "modern" ideas and values, including a "modernized" way of parenting, were cultivated in Taiwan through the U.S. aid after World War II. The historical description is continued with the history of immigration from Taiwan to the United States which sets the grounds for later discussions on parenting strategies in the globalized society in Taiwan and how immigrant parents develop coping strategies in the United States where they face culture and class- based struggles. The author then moves to a vivid description on disparate parenting strategies of middle-class parents in Taiwan and working-class parents, including marriage immigrant parents who are predominantly females from Southeast Asia or China.
Chapter 2 shows middle-class parents who utilize their social and economic capital to facilitate their children's global mobility by sending them to international schools, private schools, or to alternative schooling institutions to circumvent the traditional educational system that they themselves experienced and disapproved of. These professional middle-class parents are rather keen on "global pathway consumption," such as flexible citizenship, to facilitate future global mobility. English language skills and the spirit of independence are also considered desirable in enhancing global competitiveness and accumulating transnational cultural capital. Yet, Lan indicates, this nurturing of global mobility is carried out by means of micromanagement that meticulously schedule children's learning processes, which eventually goes...