Cover of Compelled to Excel by Vivian S. Louie
Compelled to Excel
Immigration, Education, and Opportunity among Chinese Americans
Vivian S. Louie

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2004
268 pages.
from $25.95

Cloth ISBN: 9780804749848
Paper ISBN: 9780804749855

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In the contemporary American imagination, Asian Americans are considered the quintessential immigrant success story, a powerful example of how the culture of immigrant families—rather than their race or class—matters in education and upward mobility. Drawing on extensive interviews with second-generation Chinese Americans attending Hunter College, a public commuter institution, and Columbia University, an elite Ivy League school, Vivian Louie challenges the idea that race and class do not matter. Though most Chinese immigrant families see higher education as a necessary safeguard against potential racial discrimination, Louie finds that class differences do indeed shape the students' different paths to college.

How do second-generation Chinese Americans view their college plans? And how do they see their incorporation into American life? In addressing these questions, Louie finds that the views and experiences of Chinese Americans have much to do with the opportunities, challenges, and contradictions that all immigrants and their children confront in the United States.

About the author

Vivian S. Louie is Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

"In this important book, Vivian Louie explores the variable educational experiences among the second and 1.5 generation children of Chinese immigrants . . . [T]his study makes an important contribution to studies of the second generation, as well as to the scholarship on higher education. It breaks new ground."

Ethnic and Racial Studies

"Compelled to Excel makes an important contribution ot the literature of sociology of education and race relations. It is clearly organized, convincingly argued, and well written. The frequent interview excerpts preserve the articulate, thoughtful, and dynamic voices of the respondents, opening doors to individual lives and voices we rarely hear."

Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

"[T]his is an excellent contribution to studies of Asian Americans and the sociology of education. Louie is a persuasive interviewer and will become an important scholar in these areas. This book would also be an excellent addition to any syllabus."

American Journal of Education

"This book is noteworthy in two respects. First, it presents original empirical materials on issues that are much discussed but have not been subject to detailed qualitative investigation. Second, by doing so, it sheds light on a topic that is both familiar and yet murky to social scientists: the educational achievements of Asian Americans. In short, I see the book as a major contribution to the sociology of education, ethnicity, and Asian Americans; it will be widely consulted by specialists in these areas."

—Nazli Kibria, Boston University

"This book addresses a timely topic, reviews a considerable body of relevant contemporary literature, and presents a large number of richly detailed, sensitive and poignant interviews with Chinese-American college students and their families."

—Steven Gold, Michigan State University