Title

The sojourning life as problematic: Marital crises of Chinese students who are studying in the United States

Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Social Sciences

Advisor(s)

Susan Borker

Keywords

divorce, separation, college students, culture shock

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Sociology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology | Sociology of Culture

Abstract

This research is intended to look into cases of emotional crises such as divorce, estrangement, separation and break up occurring among sojourning Chinese students who are studying at universities located in the northeastern part of the United States. For the purpose of data collection, a qualitative research method is employed through in-depth interviews with 28 Chinese students and their former spouses involved in 16 shattered marriages, all of which were originally forged in China. With "culture crossing" as the analytical framework, generated from the salient characteristics of the data collected, the interpretation of the meanings behind the emotional chaos of Chinese students is conjoined with two disciplinary approaches: Culture Shock and Symbolic Interactionism. One major contribution of this research lies in its going beyond the discussion of acculturation as the solution for sojourners as does the culture shock theory and casting a new light on the unique ways by which sojourners interact with the host culture in the digital age. By scrutinizing of the disintegration of marriages associated with students crossing from borders of the Chinese culture to America, the research shows how these Chinese students strive to handle meanings generated at the crossroads of East and West, tradition and modernity, selfhood and collectivity, personal liberty and institutional constraint.

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