In her new book Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US (Stanford 2018), Professor Lan uses parenting as an empirical lens to examine cultural transformation and persisting inequality in the contexts of globalization and immigration. This talk focuses on the distinct strategies of “global parenting” among Taiwanese families across the socioeconomic spectrum. Professional middle-class parents employ divergent educational strategies to pursue cosmopolitan parenting: some arrange international school and bilingual programs to prepare their children for the imminent future of global competition, while some others choose Western-influenced alternative curriculums to escape the tradition of rote learning and academic pressure. Globalization touches the lives of working-class families in very different ways. Taiwanese men, who suffer from rising economic insecurity due to capital outflow and labor inflow, seek wives from China and Southeast Asia. These immigrant mothers’ cultural heritage and transnational connections are hardly recognized as valuable assets until the government encourages investment to Southeast Asia in the recent “New Southbound Policy.”
Her fascinating study yielded many responses from the room. One audience member asked Lan, “What advice should I give my daughter, who is Taiwanese and wants her child to go to the best US colleges?” Lan pointed out how these concerns were universal and are at the heart of what it means to be a parent. Her work gives us a greater understanding of the human condition and puts into perspective the hurdles, as well as the determination, of Taiwanese parenting. Overall, Professor Lan’s insights engaged the audience by introducing a facet of Taiwanese and American social life that is so crucial to understand given today’s increasingly complex multicultural world.
Pei-Chia Lan is Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Director of Global Asia Research Center, and Associate Dean of the College of Social Sciences at National Taiwan University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, a Fulbright scholar at New York University, and a Yenching-Radcliffe fellow at Harvard University. Her major publications include Global Cinderellas: Migrant Domestics and Newly Rich Employers in Taiwan (Duke 2006, ASA Sex and Gender Book Award and ICAS Book Prize) and Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US (Stanford 2018).