Discrimination and social adjustment of 'new arrival women' from Mainland China

  • San Kiu, Sunday TSOI

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


This research examines the scope and the extent of discrimination experienced by (New Arrival Women) NAW as well as its impact on their social adjustment in Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR). It has been argued that discrimination slow down the adjustment process. Institutionalized discrimination and individual discrimination are examined in relation to NAW social adjustment in the HKSAR society.

The research framework is based on the concepts of institutionalized and individual discriminations. Unfair Government policies being seen as a socio-structural factor results in institutionalized discrimination while the unsatisfactory outcomes arising from the interaction between NAW and LPRs (Local Permanent Residents) brings about individual discrimination. These experiences have brought a sense of alienation and separation from the host population.

This study is based on panel study that lasted from January 2001 through March 2002. In-depth interviews to NAW from Mainland China to Hong Kong were conducted twice within one year. The interviewees include 33 NAW who entered the HKSAR with one-way permit in the last 5 years under the family reunion policy. The time interval between the first and the second interview was at least ten months. Participant observation of two NAW for 9 months was also conducted to complement the interviews.

Findings indicate that institutionalized discrimination arising from government policies such as policies on accreditation, Identity Card and public housing eligibility have adverse effect on the social adjustment of NAW. Furthermore, individual discrimination, as a result of NAW shortcomings in language fluency, differences in life style and dressing style, are manifested in cheating (non-verbal behaviour), scolding (verbal behaviour) and beating (violence). Another major observation is that individual discrimination, which may be attributed to the economic recession where NAW are regarded by LPRs as competitors in the sharing of the diminishing social resources such as jobs and other welfare facilities, gives rise to a sense of alienation and separation. However, proactive social service for NAW empowers their capability to adjustment in HKSAR, which enhance integration and assimilation to the receiving society. Surprisingly, wife abuse is found in NAW’s family. Concomitant to discrimination, NAW lacks support from the society and the family. Indeed, some experienced abuse in the homes, which challenges the notion that family provides social support. Their sense of powerlessness has becomes a catalyst for solidarity among themselves to face the unfavourable situation.

In conclusion, institutionalized discrimination as well as individual discrimination do exist and have adverse effect to the social adjustment process of NAW typically reflected in alienation and separation from the host population.
Date of Award2002
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology and Social Policy
SupervisorKeng Mun LEE (Supervisor) & Hau Nung Annie CHAN (Supervisor)

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