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Title: The cultural transition cycle and repatriation of Taiwanese academic sojourners in the UK
Author: Tattersall, Alexis Marc
ISNI:       0000 0004 2671 6947
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis emerged from concerns expressed by a Taiwanese respondent in an earlier study as to the changes manifested in her cultural identity during an academic sojourn in the UK and the implications of such changes on her return home. Employing qualitative interview techniques, this study explores the cultural transition cycle through the narratives of twenty-four Taiwanese academic sojourners all having returned home following a period of study spent in UK Higher Education. Particular focus has been placed on the role of individual, situational, and societal variables on the perception of the experience. Findings from this study suggest patterns of socialisation to be broadly predictive of repatriation affect in that the more sojourners report social integration into the host culture, the more discomfort felt upon repatriation. Reports of extensive social integration do however make up a small minority, this occurring through either cohabitating with local host families or instigating romantic relationships with host nationals. The remaining majority of respondents perceive their contact with host nationals as limited to the functional. This has been seen to come as a result of perceived indifferencelhostility of host nationals, problematic intercultural communication incidents, and behavioural expectations preventing social interaction with other nationalities on the part of the expatriate Taiwanese collective. In terms of repatriation, three groups have been broadly identified: grateful repatriates, unwilling repatriates, and accepting repatriates. Firstly, grateful repatriates make up the majority group, those whose social interaction with the host culture was limited to the functional. Manifesting little self-concept disturbance as a result of minimal social integration, these sojourners are able to benefit from their improved status as returning English-speaking, international academic sojourners to secure competitive working opportunities with higher salaries at home. Repatriation discomfort is largely minimal for these respondents, resistance to the home cultural environment being limited to explicit, surface-level features such as environment pollution, population density, the political situation, and the transition from a relaxed student life to a busy working environment. Secondly, unwilling repatriates make up the minority group, those whose levels of social integration into the host culture were much higher. This group of sojourners, despite trying to remain in the UK, found that circumstances, most frequently inability to secure work due to visa restrictions, militated against them doing so. Their repatriation experience is characterised by discomfort, difficult interpersonal relationships with family and work colleagues, and a sense of being between two cultures, foreigners in Taiwan. Discomfort comes largely as a result of newfound cultural frames of reference conflicting with the norms, values and behavioural expectations of Taiwan's collectivistic society upon returning home. Finally, the accepting repatriate group is something of an anomaly. Limited to one respondent in this study, this cultural transition cycle demonstrates high levels of adaptation and integration into the host society. This narrative differs from the unwilling group in that repatriation shows very few negative features. Whereas the unwilling repatriate group were seen to resist many facets of the home culture upon return to Taiwan, the accepting respondent was able to largely accept these, this even extending to cultural values, norms and behaviours found to be in conflict with reported revised cultural frame of reference. Of further significance is the observation that the academic sojourn for Taiwanese students in the UK is characterised by increases in ethnorelativism, intercultural awareness and cultural sensitivity. Furthermore there is much evidence in the data of a greater sense of national pride and a more pronounced appreciation of the home jurisdiction as a result of the sojourn. This is in part due to presojourn expectations of the UK being unrealistically high resulting in much of the sojourn being characterised by are-evaluation of the host environment in a less positive light. This is also reportedly a result of the development of a strong sense of solidarity among the Taiwanese overseas sojourner group in the face of continual denial of a sense of national identity by many of the Mainland Chinese encountered during the sojourn.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available