The Hmong at the plant

Jean-Pierre Hassoun, ” The Hmong at the plant “, French Review of sociology, 1988, Vol 29, pp. 35-53

What are the consequences of migration ? J-P Hassoun examines this phenomenon through the prism of the professional integration offered by the host society to the migrant Hmong. The article focuses on the discovery of the industrial world by refugees of hmong arrived in Laos in France after 1975. The insertion of the Hmong on the posts of O. S., alters their representations of the work, with the discovery of the concept of productivitié, produces an equalization of socio-professional intra-ethnic and a race inter-ethnic compared to other populations met with in the society of departure.

Jean-Pierre describes the uniformity of a mutation. In the early years of the migration, everyone goes to the same place to discuss life in France. As a modest grower is found os-welder and a former colonel, whose father was one of the first heads of township hmong in Laos, removing the plates in the oven in a porcelain factory. Example of levelling down the more accentuated, but that reflects a general movement.

“For me, life here in France, it is more hard than in us, for others it may be more easy ? For those who were servants, for the food, it feeds better here, but for the work it is a lot harder than in Laos. For those who were doing the earth, it may be easier. They had no salary, no money in the tickets, they had the rice bowl, it was their money. The civil servants, they had their money, sometimes even paddy fields. For them, life was easier. They had the honors, the importance of the” (military average rank became official today os. in a slaughterhouse)

In the French context, nobody can be considered to be “a man” (ib neeg muag). More no one can be considered to be an ” expert “, kws, or play the prestige formerly attached to the functions of the authority (or military officials. This movement, therefore, apply evenly, but does not produce the same effects depending on the individual. Some — those who were, in the social space of origin, the better endowed in material goods, and symbolic (military officers, merchants, civil servants, etc) are evidence of a double sag : first and foremost by their ethnic group but also from their old global company of reference, that is to say, the laotian society where they began, in some cases, to have status. For others — those who were in the trades, the least lucrative, and the positions of the least honours (farmers, soldiers and low-ranking officers, mainly) – , this movement of gum to their advantage the differences.

When Hmong people talk about their situation and their future in France, they often make reference to this equalization, a sort of catch-up inter-ethnic, particularly concrete in the life of work, but that could generalize to other aspects of social life and who is also involved, but this time positively, the discovery of a modern society. If the Hmong still use the social space of origin as a relational system of reference, they are also quickly brought to take into account the social space in French which to situate and appreciate their new position. This awareness of the condition of workers, which is now the their faces first of all to a lack of language. In fact, it does not exist in the language, hmong generic term to refer to the social category of workers, for the simple reason that this category did not exist nor in the social space hmong traditional, nor in the social space transformed from the war, nor even in the laotian society in general. So when they explain (them) in their daily activity, they describe as concrete as possible their actions of work. At the same time, they stress that the aspect manual and possibly the technical aspects of their employment, without expressing the social category to which the activity refers.

By Frédérique

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