Sociologist of the Month, December 2023
Please welcome our Sociologist of the Month for December 2023, Hsin-Chieh Chang (Department of Sociology, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University, China). Her article for Current Sociology Receptivity to different types of migrants in Taiwan: Civic behavior and support for same-sex marriage as novel correlates is Free Access this month.
Could you please tell us about yourself? How did you come to your field of study?
H.-C. Chang: My internship experience with refugees in the Thai-Burmese border region in 2003 impacted my life path. It prompted me to pursue interdisciplinary academic training in gender studies, sociology, urban planning, and community health sciences. It also facilitated the development of my core identity as an Asian woman scholar who aspires to work with and work for women, migrants, and other minority populations in Asia and the Asian diaspora communities.
What prompted you to research the area of your article, “Receptivity to different types of migrants in Taiwan: Civic behavior and support for same-sex marriage as novel correlates”?
H.-C. Chang: My long-term research examines how Taiwan and South Korea transitioned from migrant-sending to migrant-receiving democracies from the early 1990s to the 2020s. I started off observing the social processes that impact the integration of marriage immigrants. During my fieldwork in rural and township areas, I learned that locals’ attitudes toward immigrants profoundly affect how some immigrants perceive their level of integration and how locals and immigrants co-construct intergroup relations. Later on, I sensed different narratives through fieldwork observations in Taiwan with long-term migrant workers and live-in caregivers from Southeast Asia. I felt like I needed to write something scientifically to lay the foundation before I told the stories of migrants. Through my previous faculty position in Taipei, I submitted proposals to existing large-scale social surveys and successfully added a set of theory-informed questions on migrant receptivity. This article is the result of a long journey that has involved being in the field, working with survey teams, coming up with a research design that integrates two surveys to inform migration-related and sociological theories, and delivering the findings to an academic audience. This experience has helped me become more reflexive.
What do you see as the key findings of your article?
H.-C. Chang: The findings illuminate many intriguing and unique aspects of Taiwan as an emerging migrant-receiving Asian democracy because the article moves beyond traditional ATII research and argues for receptivity as a more accurate conceptual tool. It is frustrating to see the low receptivity of marriage immigrants since they have made significant contributions and sacrifices over the past two decades. Overall, the article tells a contextualized story of twenty-first century Taiwan: how its ethnocentrism is playing out with grassroots civic development and the more liberal end of cultural diversity. As a native of Taiwan, I am glad that the article has found its home in Current Sociology, where it can reach global readers.