Integration, social mobility and belonging--the life experiences of Chinese gay and lesbian migrants in Australia

Stream: Chinese social policy: migration and belonging
Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Time: 1.25 pm – 2.25 pm


My research investigates the patterns of social integration, social mobility, and sense of belonging of mainland Chinese queer migrants living in Australia. The research is framed to combine the effects of globalisation and socio-historical transformations. This fieldwork is done through life story interviews on their transnational life course. The participants included are 49 Chinese gays and lesbians living in Australia. The study finds that different habitus among individuals and cohorts are associated with different approaches of social integration and social mobility, and increased social mobility across social fields through the conversions and accumulations of different types of capitals provide greater opportunities for sexual migrants’ reflexivity and their enactment of post-reflexive practices. Social mobility and reflexivity enable them to: 1) reflect upon their social positioning, their human needs and life aspirations; and 2) transform their habitus and adapt their social practices so as to form a coherent narrative identity in which their past, present and future are aligned and a sense of belonging is constructed. Based on these findings, the research suggests that a multicultural social environment is conducive to sexual migrants’ integration. However multiculturalism needs to go beyond a politics of representation and invest in sexual migrants’ capacity building so that they can increase their social mobility and sense of belonging in Australia.


Cliff Chen (Presenter), Social Policy Research Center, UNSW
Cliff Chen is a PhD candidate at the Social Policy Research Center at UNSW. His research investigates the life course and social integration patterns of Chinese queer migrants in Australia. His research aims to develop policy implications for multiculturalism and migrant integration. Prior to his candidature, Cliff worked as a community development worker and caseworker with migrants, refugees, multicultural youths and international students in various community and government organisations in Australia.