Mobile Phones, Diasporas and Developing Countries: A Case Study of Connectedness among Chinese in Italy

Mobile Phones, Diasporas and Developing Countries: A Case Study of Connectedness among Chinese in Italy

Graeme Johanson (Monash University, Australia) and Tom Denison (Monash University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-997-2.ch008
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Abstract

It is no coincidence that the mobile phone suits the lifestyle and needs of the mobile migrant worker well. Research into the role of mobile or cell phones by Chinese migrant labourers, migrating within and outside China, show that the phones are a survival device, a means to perpetuate an important sense of belonging to a community in virtual form, and a method of transferring resources back to poor parts of the homeland. Mobiles help to cope in a foreign culture and to find work and ethnic solidarity. Above all, they provide connectedness. This chapter summarises the findings of a survey of 74 Chinese migrants living in Prato, Italy, as an example of Chinese migrants in Europe. It was administered in late 2008. Prato as a province has the largest Chinese migrant population in Italy, numbering about 30,000. The research aimed to understand the usefulness of mobile phones to migrant residents who need to keep in touch with their friends and families, in China and Italy, and their other communication needs, and whether mobiles satisfy their expectations. Participants in this study are well-served by mobiles. The typical participant in the study was a recently-arrived young single male from Zhejiang, China, speaking Wenzhouese, but with proficiency in other languages, experiencing the novelty of using a recently-purchased ‘Nokia’ phone, and who, whilst spending more than 10 Euros a month on the phone for keeping in touch with friends in China, was very aware of mobile running costs. More research is planned to flesh out the findings further.

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