‘Do I have a choice?’ The influences of family values and investments on Chinese migrant young people's lifestyles and physical activity participation in Australia

Bonnie Pang, Doune Macdonald, Peter Hay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines Chinese migrant young people's lifestyles and physical activity experiences in relation to the values and cultural investments of their families in Australia. The data in this paper were taken from a larger-scale study underpinned by a critical and interpretive ethnographic method conducted in two school sites. The young people's lives were significantly shaped by dominant Chinese cultural norms and traditional notions of gender. Bourdieuian concepts are drawn upon to explain the (re)production of the Chinese young people's habitus cultivated at home. Based on the young people's pursuit of cultural capital as a consequence of familial values, discussion also focuses on the agency of these young people in relation to their lifestyle choices. Dominant discourses in the ‘talk’ of these young people included their notions of excelling, hyper-investment in academic success and, especially for the girls, skin colour and safety. Traditional Chinese family power relations limited the choices these young people had regarding physical activity which was complicated by the cultural and social fluidity of their lived experiences. The inter-generational flow of habitus and capital of these Chinese migrant young people's families tended to privilege a particular set of discourses based on gender, race, social class and hierarchical practices that resonated with traditional Confucian philosophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1064
Number of pages17
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number8
Early online date5 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2015


  • Bourdieu
  • Chinese migrant young people
  • Confucianism
  • Investment strategies
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Education

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