The Chinese Laundryman: A Study of Social Isolation

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NYU Press, 1987 - Political Science - 311 pages
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Chinese hand laundries have been a fixture of America's urban landscape for over one hundred years. Yet little is publicly known about the workings of this familiar institution which originated shortly after Chinese immigrants had started to arrive in some numbers in California in the 1850s. At that time the Chinese worked in a wide range of occupations, hand laundries being one of them.

But with the faltering of the Western economy and as European immigration to the United States mounted, the tide of anti-Chinese sentiment swelled, which culminated in violent evictions of the Chinese from West Coast cities and in the imposition of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The laundry became one of the few occupations in which Chinese were able to continue to work. This book is the definitive scholarly study of Chinese laundries and of those who worked in them in the United States.

Sio's work, researched in the 1930s, was completed as a dissertation in 1953 at the University of Chicago's School of Sociology. It is an intimate insider's look at the life and work of Chinese hand laundry workers in Chicago, and is one of the most insightful participant observation studies of this kind. Dr. Siu, himself the son of a laundryman, introduces in it the key sociological concept of the "sojourner" and explores the whole nature of immigrant economies.

Considered a classic work by students of overseas Chinese and Asian American studies, The Chinese Laundryman is also a landmark in the study of ethnic occupations and in the social and cultural history of the immigrant in America. Vividly descriptive and highly readable, the book will appeal to anyone interested in the ethnic and the urban experience in America.

 

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The Chinese laundryman: a study of social isolation

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This is a long-overdue publication of a 1953 doctoral dissertation. Concentrating on Chicago, Siu illuminates in exceptional detail important aspects of the life of the Chinese in America. The volume ... Read full review

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This was a great book thank yoo very much. Fantastic.

Contents

THE CHINESE LAUNDRYMAN IN THE EYES
8
GROWTH AND DISTRIBUTION OF
23
ORIGIN OF THE CHINESE LAUNDRY
44
PHYSICAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHINESE LAUNDRY
56
SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHINESE LAUNDRY
69
THE LAUNDRY AND ITS AGENCIES
89
THE NEWCOMER AND THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN
107
THE OLDTIMER i2
122
THE LAUNDRYMANS FOLKS IN CHINA
156
THE RETURN TRIP TO CHINA
176
IMMIGRATION PROBLEMS
194
PERSONAL CONFLICT AND THE MODE OF LIFE
212
THE CHINESE LAUNDRYMAN AS A GAMBLER
227
OUTGROUP CONTACTS AND DEVIANT TYPES
272
THE CHINESE LAUNDRYMAN AS A SOJOURNER
294
Index
303

THE LAUNDRYMANS SOCIAL WORLD
137

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Page xxii - Rose Hum Lee, The Chinese in the United States of America (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1960...

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About the author (1987)

Paul Chan Pang Siu, the son of a laundry worker, studied sociology at the University of Chicago under Ernest Burgess and Louis Wirth. Afterwards, he worked as a social worker in Boston's Chinatown during the 1940s and then taught sociology for twenty years. he retired as Chairperson and Professor of Sociology from the Detroit Institute of Technology in 1971. His essays have appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Burgess and Bogue's Contributions to Urban Sociology, and Qishiniandai [The Seventies].

John Kuo Wei Tchen, author of Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown (1984), is cofounder and historian of the New York Chinatown History Project.

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