A Great Wall? Migration, Political Socialisation and Political Participation among Chinese in New Zealand
Chinese political participation is low by comparison with other migrant and ethnic groups despite high socioeconomic status. This suggests that other barriers to participation are present among this group. This study examines how pre- and post-migration political socialisation affect the electoral participation of Chinese in New Zealand. Fifteen one-on-one, in-depth interviews allowed me to consider the relationship between both length of residence and socialisation in a democratic versus non-democratic regime and electoral participation among this sample. In this case, analysis of each participant’s migration and political participation experiences revealed no correlation between either length of residence and socialisation in a democratic versus non-democratic regime and electoral participation, although it highlighted the significance of demographic factors such as age and life-cycle, and social capital and political interest for electoral participation. Few studies have focused on Chinese migrant political participation specifically in New Zealand and even fewer on the subject of Chinese electoral participation. However, understanding what drives and inhibits electoral participation among this group is both important for the development of New Zealand’s Asia-Pacific identity and ultimately as an indicator of the health of democracy in New Zealand.