The social capital of new arrival women (NAW) in Hong Kong

Sunday San-kiu TSOI, Annie Hau-nung CHAN

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According to Lin, social capital is a social asset which an individual uses social connections and access to resources in the network or group of which one is a member in achieve goals. Individuals possess different social capital and access their social capital differently in varied social structures. In practice, social capital is expressed as "it is who you know" as well as "what you know" that make a difference in one's life. A new arrival woman enters a receiving society with her own social capital that she has gained from her home country in its social structure. Naturally, she needs to use her own social capital to face the challenge of a new society, such as gaining a job and supports in daily lives. Surveys and reports show that NAW from Mainland China in Hong Kong have experienced a certain extent of discrimination by Local Permanent Resident (LPR). Inevitably, they access and develop their social capital with the influence of discrimination. Discrimination provides constrain in building up new networks and connections with LPR that may enhance their social capital. Furthermore, the majority of NAW who migrate to Hong Kong with a one-way permit under the family re-union policy are seen as dependant of their husband by HongKongers. Though the new arrival woman has a significant person (spouse) in her network, this does not mean that the network will naturally increase their social capital here in Hong Kong. This study gives an account of the social capital of NAW under the influence of discrimination against them. Based on that, there will be an examination of their capability of developing their well being in a new life setting. A panel study has been carried out lasting from January 2000 through March 2002. In-depth interviews to NAW from Mainland China to Hong Kong have been conducted twice within one year. 33 NAW reside in Hong Kong less than 7 years and live with husband are interviewed. The time interval between the first and second interview is at least ten months. The arrangement helps to observe the obtainment of social capital with regard to a timeframe. In view of empirical evidences, because of being stigmatized, they cannot build up a network with LPR adequately to face their challenges in child rearing and job searching. Majority of the NAW think that they are discriminated by LPR. As a result, they fear to access social resources for empowering themselves. Fortunately, some of them have been assisted by NGOs to build up their supporting network among fellow NAW.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFirst International Symposium on Chinese Women and Their Network Capital : preliminary conference proceedings
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherDepartment of Sociology, University of Hong Kong
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Paper presented at the 1st International Symposium on "Chinese Women and Their Network Capital", University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, June 20-21, 2002.


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