Chinese Migrants in Paris

The Narratives of Illusion and Suffering

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Author: Simeng Wang
This research employs the narrative of mental suffering as a prism through which to study Chinese migration in France. It provides new analytical angles and new perspectives on the paradoxical existence and conditions of the migrants, and traces the social links between individuals and societies, objectivity and subjectivity, the real and the imaginary.

The ethnographic survey in this study is situated in the context of the transformation of Chinese society over the last forty years. Dr. Wang deconstructs the stereotypes of Chinese people, demonstrates the dynamics of social mobilities and heterogeneous living conditions of Chinese migrants, who experience and narrate happiness as well as pain, joy as well as sorrow, and hope as well as despair.

The transversal approach used to analyse the heterogeneity within an ethnic group will be of interest to scholars of migration studies in general.

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Simeng Wang, Ph.D (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, Sociology, 2014), is a Permanent Research Fellow at The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and faculty member at the CERMES3 (Research Centre, Medicine, Science, Health, Mental Health and Society). She has published on Chinese diaspora in France, health issues in the era of globalization, and anti-Asian racism and discrimination, including Mental Health and Mental Suffering: An Object for the Social Sciences (CNRS Éditions, 2018) and Chinese Immigrants in Europe: Image, Identity and Social Participation (De Gruyter, 2020).
Foreword
List of Figures
Abbreviations

Introduction: Illusions and Suffering of Migrants: a Sociological Approach
1 The Contributions to Social Science Theory of Studying Psychological Suffering
2 Intersecting Migration and Mental Health: What are the Stakes?
 2.1  Shedding Light on the Subjectivity and Intimate Life of Migrants
 2.2  Understanding the Family Configurations and Intergenerational Relationships
 2.3  Providing Information about the Therapeutic Relationships and Modes of Care in the Era of Global Health
 3 Which Sociological Approach?
 3.1  Gaining Access to the Medical Field
 3.2  The Place of “Culture” in the Clinic
 3.3  Ethical and Epistemological Reflections on the Posture of Ethnographer in the Medical Setting

1 From China to France: Contexts of Emigration and Conditions of Immigration
 1 The Global Context of Chinese Emigration to the West
 1.1 Social Stratification and the Determinants of Social Status in China.
 1.2 Changing Images of the West: Who Emigrates, Where and Why?
 1.3 What France Represents for Chinese Aspirant Migrants

 2 The Chinese Population in the Paris Region: Waves of Migration and Literature Review
 2.1 Skilled Chinese Migrants: a ‘Forgotten’ Category?
 2.2 The Descendants of Chinese Immigrants
 2.3 Chinese Associative Life
 2.4 The Heterogeneity of Chinese Migrations in the Paris Region

2 The Sufferings of Exile
 1 The Events of Tiananmen
 2 Living the Exile and Its Paradoxes
 2.1 “A Dialogue between Two Social Scientists”
 2.2 “The Road to Exile, the Road back Home”
 2.3 “In France, I Am a marginal”
 2.4 “I Have Not Lost the Chinese Feeling”
 2.5 Paradoxical Political Dispositions
 3 Exiles at the Psychotherapist’s Door
 3.1 “A Generation That is Suffering and Needs to Express It”: Seeking Healthcare in the Private Psychiatric Sector
 3.2 ‘Hero’ or ‘Victim’: a Social Image Consolidated by the Therapeutic Setting
 3.3 An Opportunity for Subjectivation: “It was a Period of the ‘Great Me’ before the ‘Little Me’ ”.
 4 The Politicisation of Suffering and the Suffering of Politicisation

3 Conflicting Matrimonial Norms
 1 Social Origins of Young Skilled Migrants, Choice of Career Path and Sociabilities
 2 The Sociological Stakes of Studying the Matrimonial Destiny of International Migrants
 3 Matrimonial Ethos in China
 3.1 The Phenomenon of Sheng Nü and Sheng Nan
 3.2 The Timeline of a Romantic Relationship in Chinese Society
 3.3 The Passion of Young Chinese Women for ‘Uncles’
 4 Disruption of the Matrimonial Market in a Transnational Context
 4.1 The ‘I Never Meet Anyone [I like]’, Configuration of the Matrimonial Market.
 4.2 A Twofold Absence: beyond Matrimonial Failure?
 4.3 Matrimonial Worry for Skilled Chinese Women: Transnational Socialisation through the Prism of Intimacy
  4.3.1 Types of Legal Union and Age Gaps
  4.3.2 Different Ways of Using Romantic Relationships to Serve the Migratory Project
 5 Managing Gendered Sufferings: Case Studies
 6 The Genesis and Management of Matrimonial Worries in a Transnational Context

4 The Disillusions of Illegal Migration
 1 Discovering the ‘Collective Lie’
 2 Maintaining the ‘Collective Lie’
 3 The ‘Illness Clause’ and Regularisation on Medical Grounds
 3.1 Regularisation on Medical Grounds: a Weapon of the Weak
 3.2 The Ordinary Moral Perceptions of the Use of the Law
 4 Interaction with Doctors over Time: Moral Stakes, Medical and Migratory Uncertainties
 5 Returning Home
 6 From Diagnosing Migrants to Analysing the Social Conditions of Migration

5 Abandoned Children, Sacrificed Children
 1 Providing Services to One’s Parents
 1.1 Contributing Sociocultural Services
 1.2 The Children’s Economic Contributions for Their Parents
 1.3 The Presence of Children as an Administrative Resource
 2 Reflections on the Reverse Parenting Obligations
 3 Connecting with the ‘Outside World’
  3.1 Justifying ‘Deviance’ through Associative Participation
  3.2 Circumventing Reverse Parenting Obligations through Matrimonial Choice
  3.3 Undergoing Psychiatric Care for ‘Tranquillity’
 4 Living with Reverse Parenting Obligations

6 Social Mobility and Mental Suffering
 1 Psychiatry as a Refuge: Children of the Lower Classes
 2 Class Position as the Origin of Psychological Difficulties: Children of the Middle Classes
 3 The Pressure to Succeed ‘on the World Stage’: Children of the Chinese Elites
 4 Heterogeneous Social Aspirations in Young French People of Chinese Origin

Conclusion: Mental Suffering, Social Suffering
 1 The Socio-historical Diversity of Chinese Immigration to Paris
 2 A Differentiated Expression of Mental Suffering, a Socially Situated Care-seeking
  2.1 Effects of the Migratory Generation on Access to Care
  2.2 Access to Care Linked to the Type and Volume of Capitals Detained by the Migrant
 3 Migrations through the Prism of ‘Suffering’, an Effective Analytical Framework
 4 From Migration Studies to a General Sociology
 5 What Position Should be Assigned to ‘Culture’?
 6 ‘Alternative’ Medicines and Care-seeking in the Era of Globalisation

Bibliography
Index of Cases Analysed
Index

All interested in Chinese Overseas, China studies, migration studies, as well as those concerned with issues related to health, mental health, medical settings, and well-being.