Towards British-Chinese futures : a social geography of second generation young Chinese people in London
This thesis is primarily concerned with the cultural identities of second generation British-Chinese people located within the urban context of London. There are two chief reasons why London is the setting of the study. One, it has the largest Chinese population of any city in Britain, accounting for over a third of the British total. Second, its Chinatown acts as an economic hub for Chinese social and cultural activity for the South East region. It is argued that the conditions of Chinese settlement in London allow for the formation of Chinese collectivities and identities characterised by a high level of heterogeneity. One of the principal aims of the research is to demonstrate how preexisting writing on 'new ethnicities' in Britain may be applicable to Chinese youth. Using a mixed qualitative research methodology, in-depth interviews were conducted with both first and second generation Chinese settlers, comprised of a core sample of twenty-one second generation Chinese informants and ten of their parents. Complementing the interviews were a series of participant observation studies at sites relevant to the 'Chinese community'. The research shows that young Chinese people in London are redefining notions of self and identity through a protracted negotiation between the contrasting terrains of Chineseness and Britishness. This general theme is explored in four different ways: through experiences of work (what are the effects on Chinese children who feel obliged to help out their parents?); community (how do Chinese people understand their relationship to the 'community'?); gender (how does the experience of growing up in Britain differ for young Chinese men and women?); and identity (how do young Chinese people cope with growing up in isolated circumstances?). Through these research questions, an analysis that cross-cuts social dimensions of class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and generation emerges to illuminate the changing nature of contemporary British-Chinese life.