Sociological Forum

Angie Y. Chung*

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ABSTRACT
While more studies are exploring the ways in which gender structures the family experiences of American-born children of immigrants, there is less attention to how gender shapes later views on ethnicity and culture. Based on interviews with Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese Americans in the New York–New Jersey metropolitan area, this article examines the different ways second-generation children learn, interpret, and pass on the cultural values and family traditions in their adulthood. Because their family roles center on their roles as leaders and carriers of the family name through male heirs, sons—especially oldest sons—can fulfill their filial obligations through relatively orthodox and nonengaging cultural practices that although restrictive, do not threaten their personal goals and privileged status. However, daughters must negotiate more emotionally burdensome expectations and responsibilities by preserving family honor, acting as family caretakers, and juggling multiple responsibilities; thus, they tend to re-create more subtle, self-empowering, and emotionally engaging ways of interpreting and preserving their parents’ expectations on family culture. I argue that the gendered ways daughters and sons are taught to practice cultural values and protect family honor has significant bearing on their later views on ethnicity and culture but in complex ways that transcend the generational divide.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff