Sociocultural Shocks In Cross-Border Marriages: A Comparison Between Chinese and Southeast Asian Wives In Taiwan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Hsiang-Ming KUNG , Shih Hsin University, Taipei, Taiwan
Along with the expansion of international trade between Taiwan and Southeast Asia, inter-ethnic marriages between Taiwanese men and Southeast Asian women have started from the late 1970s.  Cross-border marriages between Taiwanese men and Chinese women have dramatically increased starting from the late 1980s after the Taiwanese government has changed the national policy.  These new situations make cross-border marriages a significant phenomenon in Taiwan.

        Based on the in-depth interviews with marriage immigrants from China and Southeast Asia, the author delineates their daily lives in Taiwanese families after they married.  It is clearly that all these marriage immigrants experience sociocultural shocks when they have started their lives in Taiwan.

        The author notices that both Chinese and Southeast Asian wives wish to work on the job market and be economically independent but are restrained by the government policy.  Both of them feel strange about the common arrangement in Taiwan to live with in-laws. They also experience the unreasonable underestimation of their natal family’s SES by their in-laws.

        Only Chinese wives complain that their husbands never helped with household chores, and their mothers-in-law seldom helped either, and so they have to work like a household servant.  Moreover, they are often in conflict with their mothers-in-law or husbands on the issue of child rearing.  They are also fussy about Taiwan’s limited living space.

        Most Southeast Asian wives, on the other hand, emphasize personal privacy and sanitation of living environment, but the real situations often contradict with what they expect.  They also frown at the special diet their mothers-in-law prepared for them after they have delivered babies.  They are especially angry about their natal mothers being looked down upon by their in-laws. 

       All the above mentioned sociocultural shocks in turn affect whether or not these foreign wives identify with their families in Taiwan.