An investigation into the transnational identity of Chinese student returnees from the UK

Wang, Suyang (2018) An investigation into the transnational identity of Chinese student returnees from the UK. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study explores the meaning of transnational identity of Chinese student returnees from the UK. The study is set in the context of transnationalism in the new era of globalisation. The scientific importance of this research lies in that it seeks to understand transnational identity in student returnees'experiences under the theory of transnationalism. It fills the research gap by providing a new theoretical perspective and methodological approach to identity. Under transnationalism, the study not only explores identity changes in a particular country and culture, but investigates it in the changing and overlapping countries and cultures, especially in China and the UK.

To provide a more nuanced description of student returnees’ identity changes, qualitative methodology is adopted. Each student returnee is interviewed three times based on three different settings: first, based on their personal experiences in the UK; second, based on their personal experiences in China; the final round is the conclusion for the first two rounds. Altogether, 48 interviews were completed and analysed. Data based on the three rounds of interviews (two main settings) are organised into two finding chapters.

The study finds that transnational identity is understood as single, composing several dimensions. For this study in particular, student returnees'transnational identity can be explained by four major dimensions: the capacity to build connections between cultures, diaspora consciousness, diaspora values and attitudes, and expansion of behaviours and actions. In terms of the process in which transnational identity is formed, the study also finds that Chinese student returnees went through different phases and levels of changes of transnational identity. More importantly, the complex changes in transnational identity show the interplay between agency and structure(s). On the one hand, Chinese student returnees negotiated their identity of various levels of structures, including society, social group, institutional and virtual levels. On the other hand, although various structures provided the context in which student returnees negotiated their transnational identity, it was student returnees'agency that shaped their sojourn and homecoming experience and further identity changes.

In particular, it was the extent to which student returnees mobilized their agency that made the difference. Among many factors shaping different responses in agency, the divergence and convergence between agency and structure played a critical role in making the difference.

The findings not only nuance the theories of identity and transnational identity, but also deepen our understanding of Chinese students and student returnees’ sojourn and homecoming experience, in addition to a new perspective into the phenomenon of culture shock and reverse culture shock. Finally, it is suggested that a more concerted effort from supra-national level to individual level is needed to provide Chinese students with more equal, qualified and intercultural education in the UK.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Gu, Qing
Evison, Jane
Keywords: Transnational education, Transnationalism, Chinese students
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC1390 Education of special classes of persons
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 49712
Depositing User: Wang, Suyang
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2018 01:31

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