Janet Salaff (1963)

Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

My thesis researched Chinese family formation, supervised by Kingsley Davis. From my perch in Hong Kong, I tried to do a minisurvey people using topical questions, on people that no longer lived in China. I discovered that asking people their views of what would have happened if they had remained in China [what would have happened in their lives if they had not done what they did do] was troubling to me and them. I really had to do participant observation. So I retooled myself in interpretive sociology with a structural bais. I have studied Chinese family formation with interviews and participant observation ever since.

My best known book is WORKING DAUGHTERS OF HONG KONG, which pioneered the life study method on a previously overlooked population of factory girls. I have also done research on the Chinese diaspora elsewhere (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Inner Mongolia). I am currently writing a book on PRC immigrants to Toronto, looking at labor market adaptation, entrepreneurial activities, family economies and child care opportunities and responsibilities of this newest outreach of the Chinese diaspora. With my new husband Arent Greve (Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration), I am applying concepts of social networks and social capital to understand why skilled immigrants have trouble getting jobs in Toronto. I learned in Berkeley not to "blame the victim," and I am trying to give a voice to well trained Chinese in Toronto that are diminished by their efforts to develop their capacities in North America.

Dissertation Title: 
Youth, Family, and Political Control in Communist China