Cosmopolitan and Essentialized Socialites in Transnational Spaces

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:50 AM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Caroline PLUSS , Division of Sociology, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
This presentation forwards the new analytical concepts of cosmopolitan and culturally hybrid, and culturally essentialized, socialities. This is to account for the access to professional, family, and/or friendships/lifestyles resources of 25 Chinese-Singaporean transnational migrants—who lived in Hong Kong—in their respective transnational spaces, which they formed by subsequently living in several societies. These two forms of socialites are new and encompassing characteristics of access and non-access to the resources of different contexts-of-interaction in different places and societies because they merge both, the two basic forms of culture contact (adaptation or differentiation), and social relations of reciprocity, trust, collaboration, and exchange. This presentation will show that the Chinese Singaporeans’ explanations of their practices (or lack of practices) of these two forms of accounts for how they perceived of changes in their own characteristics, in the dominant cultural characteristics of their transnational spaces, and of the cultural characteristics of processes of globalization that the Chinese Singaporeans were carriers of. Emphases are on the role of the cosmopolitan cultural characteristics the Chinese Singaporeans acquired through bilingual education in Singapore to establish cosmopolitan socialities in their contexts of work and friendships in Hong Kong with English-speaking people who were form the West, and Asians who had lived in the West; and ‘cosmopolitan’ work socialities with colleagues in mainland China (the PRC). However, the Chinese Singaporeans’ mostly maintained essentialized socialities in their families, and they were largely excluded from the (differently) essentialized socialites of local Hong Kong people, propelling them—paradoxically, to more highly values cosmopolitan socialities with other non-locals in their contexts of work and friendships.