This volume explores the social consequences of macro-economic reform introduced in Vietnam more than a quarter of a century ago through a focus on young women graduates who hope to find success in Ho Chi Minh City’s growing graduate labour market. They are part of Vietnam’s new middle class, an educated and affluent segment of society growing with the rapid urbanization of Vietnam’s major cities.
Drawing on a rich person-centred ethnography supplemented with middle-class Vietnamese women’s published autobiographies, it reveals how opportunities for professional work, further education, and leisure lifestyling attract young migrants, particularly female graduates, to Vietnam’s mega-urban Southeast region. Centred on Ho Chi Minh City, it argues that Vietnam’s Southeast enables young women, so long as they remain single, to realize aspirations for betterment that affect not only their own lives, but those of their families and communities who remain in rural Vietnam. It highlights the socio-cultural and material benefits realized through remittances received from urban daughters to emphasize the salience of kinship during periods of social transformation.
The volume concludes with a wide-ranging look at the emergence of middle classes in Pacific Asia in order to locate the Vietnamese new middle class within a globalizing context.