An interesting post from Scott Sommers about foreign workers and social class. He is describing the expat society of Taiwan, of course, but there are obvious similarities with the Mainland, and I’m wondering how much of what he writes can be applied here.

Well, first up, culture workers (teachers, translators, performers, etc) definitely are the lower class, no doubt about that. There are exceptions, of course, but for most of us, that’s how it is: we’re the bottom of the heap.

The questions he raises in the last two paragraphs are definitely worth considering:

Many of the questions I have about the class structure of foreigners here concern mobility within and between classes. How much mobility is there? How are mobile people aware of the change in their class status? What are the conditions that make mobility possible?

One of the main aspects of life in Taiwan is entrepreneurship. How is this involved in the lives of foreign teachers and their place in the class structure? Am I correct that entrepreneurial English teachers are still part of the culture industry no matter what their income? Is it necessary to expand outside of the recognized culture industries to gain legitimate status as a businessman? If this is true, it might explain the expansion of foreigners into operating restaurants and bars, which, while ethnic, are not defined as the traditional scope of the culture industry.

The comments are also well worth a read.

He also has a post about the family lives of foreign teachers in Taiwan that looks interesting.

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