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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-35189

Merz-Benz, P U (2010). The Chinese Laundryman: A Model for the Social Type of the Sojourner – and a Living Transcultural Phenomenon. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 64(1):89-100.



Paul Chan Pang Siu’s article “The Sojourner”, which appeared in 1952, belongs to the classical texts in the sociology of migration. Paul Siu, the son of a Chinese laundryman and later student of sociology at the University of Chicago under Ernest Burgess and Louis Wirth, attempted to investigate, using scientific means, the reality which determined his father’s life, and over and above that, the lives of a whole ethnic group. Siu understands the sojourner as a special type of sociological form of stranger, deliberately setting himself apart from the then famous “marginal man” of Robert E. Park. Unlike the marginal man, the sojourner is not between the cultures. Rather, he lives with his countrymen together in a culturally homogenous colony. He is socially isolated and would like, when he has finished his job and achieved success, to return to his home country as soon as possible.

Although Siu’s concept of the sojourner originates from 1952, it in fact proves to be very relevant nowadays in unexpected ways. Siu already thought about migration not from the individual perspective, but from that of the social and cultural fields. He described the migration movement as a movement within the framework of complex network structures which have their own reality, over and above national and cultural borders. In this way, he places himself right in the center of the present discussion on migration, which is concerned with the phenomena of globalization, transnationalism, and transmigration. And in addition, there are clear references in his work to the concepts of transculturality and transdifference. But the most important thing is that Siu constantly worked with precise sociological terms. From this we can still learn in our present time.



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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 64 (2010) > 1
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Deposited On:26 Jul 2010 07:02
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:12
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
Related URLs:http://www.sagw.ch/de/asiengesellschaft/publikationen/Asiatische-Studien.html (Publisher)
http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?vID=86850&vLang=D&vHR=1&vUR=4&vUUR=11 (Publisher)

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