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Tiger Mom. Asian patriarchy. Model minority children. Generation gap. The many images used to describe the prototypical Asian family have given rise to two versions of the Asian immigrant family myth. The first celebrates Asian families for upholding the traditional heteronormative ideal of the “normal (white) American family” based on a hard-working male breadwinner and a devoted wife and mother who raises obedient children. The other demonizes Asian families around these very same cultural values by highlighting the dangers of excessive parenting, oppressive hierarchies, and emotionless pragmatism in Asian cultures. Saving Face cuts through these myths, offering a more nuanced portrait of Asian immigrant families in a changing world as recalled by the people who lived them first-hand: the grown children of Chinese and Korean immigrants. Drawing on extensive interviews, sociologist Angie Y. Chung examines how these second-generation children negotiate the complex and conflicted feelings they have toward their family responsibilities and upbringing. Although they know little about their parents’ lives, she reveals how Korean and Chinese Americans assemble fragments of their childhood memories, kinship narratives, and racial myths to make sense of their family experiences. However, Chung also finds that these adaptive strategies come at a considerable social and psychological cost and do less to reconcile the social stresses that minority immigrant families endure today. Saving Face not only gives readers a new appreciation for the often painful generation gap between immigrants and their children, it also reveals the love, empathy, and communication strategies families use to help bridge those rifts.
About the Author
ANGIE Y. CHUNG is an associate professor in the department of sociology at the University at Albany, SUNY, in New York. She is the author of Legacies of Struggle: Conflict and Cooperation in Korean American Politics.