The article analyzes several aspects related to the presence of migrant worker families, primarily from the Chinese province of Zhejiang, in Prato’s industrial district. The ethnographic research highlights how Chinese families, specifically immigrants working in the fast-fashion manufacturing sector, adjust to recent dynamics of globalization. The collaborative project innovates an encounter ethnography methodology to understand how families and individuals negotiate the terms of transnational capitalism. The analysis shows how resources activated through mechanisms of reciprocity are central to sustaining competitiveness and flexibility. The authors explore some of the practices and contexts of urban life, such as those related to the management of time and of children on the part of parents, who often rely on grandparents or relatives living in China to care for their children for long periods. Analysis extends to the restrictive and discriminatory policies adapted by the local government concerning the use of public space in the urban zones, namely those where migrants have settled, as well as the successful challenge to one such policy.
Keywords: Globalization, Chinese immigration, Fast fashion, Family firms, Flexible Labor, Encounter ethnography