Vietnam's New Middle Classes: Gender, Career, City

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by Catherine Earl

Vietnam has been transformed over the past quarter of a century by massive industrialization and urbanization that followed macro-economic reforms introduced from the late 1980s. This volume explores the social consequences of this change by delving into the lives and aspirations of young women graduates who have come to Ho Chi Minh City in search of success in the city’s growing graduate labour market. They are part of Vietnam’s new middle class, an educated and affluent segment of society growing with the rapid urbanization of Vietnam’s major cities.

This rich, person-centred ethnography argues that the country’s mega-urban Southeast region enables young women, so long as they remain single, to realize aspirations for betterment that affect not only their own lives, but those of their families and communities who remain in rural Vietnam. It thus highlights the important social role of remittances and the salience of kinship during periods of social transformation. The volume concludes with a wide-ranging look at the emergence of middle classes in Pacific Asia in order to locate the Vietnamese new middle class within a globalizing context.

"Earl offers a cogent account of women’s navigation of the shifting valuations of the cultural capital and bodied in their educational and professional credentials." - Ann Marie Leshkowich, SOJOURN Volume 30, no. 2

Catherine Earl is a social anthropologist and policy analyst. She has written extensively on the changing nature of work and welfare, mobilities, gender and social change in contemporary Vietnam and Australia.

Publication year: 2014
320 pp / 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-87-7694-146-8, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-145-1, Hardback

NIAS Press