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The Invisible Unattended: Low-wage Chinese Immigrant Workers, Health Care, and Social Capital in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley

Authors


  • This project was partially supported by the Center for Southern California Studies and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at California State University, Northridge. The authors would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Gary Jack Jin Lee. Finally, the authors would like to thank the reviewers for their comments. Please direct correspondence to Kay Kei-ho Pih, California State University, Northridge, CA, USA; tel.: (818) 677-3294; fax: (818) 677-2059; e-mail: kay.pih@csun.edu.

Abstract

This study investigates the factors affecting the availability of health insurance, the accessibility of health care, and the dissemination of the relevant information among low-wage Chinese immigrants in Southern California by relying on the concepts of social and cultural capital. Using community-based research and in-depth interviews, our study suggests that a severe shortage in health care coverage among low-wage Chinese immigrants is influenced by the lack of employment with employer-provided health insurance within the Chinese “ethnoburb” community. Although the valuable social capital generated by Chinese immigrant networks seems to be sufficient enough to provide them with certain practical resources, the lack of cultural capital renders the social network rather ineffective in providing critical health care information from mainstream American society.

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