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Past Featured Event

Seminar: ‘Class consciousness and disempowerment of Chinese migrant workers in transnational communities: Why does it matter for Chinese communities in the UK?’

Speaker: Dr Bin Wu

Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator, Centre for Chinese Migration Studies (CCMS) School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham

Abstract: For the literature on international migration and diasporic studies, there is a tendency to emphasise homogenous elements such as shared ethnic background, social network, and cultural similarities in immigrants’ identity. Such approach may underestimate the differences (and sometimes conflicts) of interests between ethnic employers and migrant workers. Based upon a series of fieldwork in Italy and the UK, we argue that class consciousness is a key to understand not only the voices, perceptions and reactions of Chinese migrant workers against poor working conditions in some of Chinese owned workplaces, but also the impacts on the structure and power relationship in diasporic Chinese communities. Equally important is the factors and constraints from class consciousness which vary country by country. With a focus on the latest development of Chinese immigration and employment conditions in the Chinese business in the UK since the 21st century, this paper aims to address the following questions: To what extent do Chinese migrant workers in Italy and the UK have class consciousness? Why is class consciousness among Chinese migrant workers in the UK than in Italy? What are key factors responsible for the formation or spread of class consciousness? Research findings are drawn from a number of participatory observations in Chinese owned businesses and in-depth interviews with Chinese entrepreneurs, migrant workers and community leaders in East Midlands in 2009 plus a Nottingham Chinese community survey in 2013. Implications for ethnic Chinese community cohesion and integration in the UK are discussed.


Short-biography: Dr. Bin Wu is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham. He is a founder and convenor of the Centre for Chinese Migration Studies (CCMS) since 2013. With an interdisciplinary training background, his research interests include: rural sustainability and farmer innovation in China; working conditions of Chinese migrant workers; global citizenship education, social justice and Chinese higher education reform; Chinese student migration, integration and diasporic Chinese communities in the UK and Europe. His recent publications include: "Nottingham Chinese Community in Transition: A survey of community cohesion, integration and university engagement" (2013), "Chinese Immigration into the EU: New Trends, Dynamics and Implications" (ECRAN Paper, 2013 with Kevin Latham); "Bringing class back in: Class consciousness and solidarity amongst Chinese migrant workers in Italy and the UK" (Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2014, with Hong Liu); Chinese Higher Education Reform and Social Justice (Routledge, 2016, co-editor with John Morgan). He is a co-editor of the International Journal of Disaporic Chinese Studies (in Chinese). He has just completed a special issue for the Journal of Chinese Overseas (2016) as a guest editor (with Stig Thøgersen) with the theme of Chinese student integration and local engagement.

This event is part of a seminar series:

Seminar Series - ‘Family dynamics, health and ageing in contemporary China’

Hilary Term 2016 Seminar Series ‘Family dynamics, health and ageing in contemporary China’ Thursdays 14:00 – 15:30, in the Seminar Room at 66 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PR Convenor: Professor Sarah Harper, Director, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing All welcome.

Post event resources


Presentation here.

CopyRight - Bin Wu.


Event Details

21 January 2016 14:00 - 15:30


Oxford Institute of Population Ageing

66 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PR