The integration of Chinese migrants in Prato, Italy

2017-03-02T23:51:06Z (GMT) by Fladrich, Anja Michaela
Over the past three decades Prato has witnessed the rapid growth of a Chinese ethnic enclave. As one of Europe’s most concentrated Chinese communities, the ongoing physical segregation of the Chinese migrants in Prato has remained contentious and has resulted in heightened social tension in the host society. This tension has raised questions about the adjustment of the Chinese migrants to their new host society and the reasons behind the lack of their integration as the key theme that this thesis is concerned with. Using a qualitative research approach, this thesis is based on interviews with Chinese students, job seekers, employees and entrepreneurs conducted in Prato between 2007 and 2011. In this thesis I investigate the emergence of a Chinese labour market in Prato, the opportunities for socio-economic mobility of Chinese migrants and their connectedness using mobile phones. In three empirical chapters I illustrate the extent, and importance, of the bond Chinese migrants maintain with the Chinese community. I argue that the Chinese enclave has restricted the opportunities for interactions the Chinese migrants have with the host society, which impacts on their integration. The deliberate decision of the Chinese migrants to remain within the confines of the ethnic enclave long after their arrival has been a conscious choice that has provided many economic opportunities beyond mere social security and comfort. Advances in communication technologies have enabled migrants to overcome the geographical distance between Italy and China, allowing the Chinese in Prato to be constantly engaged with their family and friends back home. The ethnic enclave thus forms the key determining factor in the isolation of the Chinese migrants in Prato.