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Title: Malleable success : the identity formation of Taiwanese working holidaymakers in Australia
Author: Chiu, Pin Yao
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 4412
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2019
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The number of Taiwanese working holidaymakers in Australia has grown rapidly over the last decade. They are criticized as 'losers' and are labelled 'Tai-Lao' in Taiwanese society. This thesis explores how Taiwanese working holidaymakers respond to the public narratives in Taiwan through their experiences in Australia and their achievements after returning home. Based on 31 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with Taiwanese working holidaymakers conducted in Taiwan, I show that, in response to the prejudice they experience in Taiwan, these young people refute, relabel, or even redefine the term 'Tai-Lao' to avoid a negative social identity. Nevertheless, they also unconsciously reproduce prejudices, which has led to internal conflicts within this group. Some of them dream of being financial winners, while others identify themselves as cosmopolitans from a Western perspective. This thesis critically examines issues such as English language skills, cultural values and social networks as important resources for their identity formation within the Australian workplace. These resources enable them to make sense of who they are while at the same time leading to intra-group comparison between these Taiwanese. Moreover, becoming successful returnees requires negotiation between the self and neoliberal ideology. This negotiation enables them to commodify their experiences in Australia and forces them to participate in the competition in the Taiwanese labour market. Inscribing itself within wider theoretical discussions about the role of capital, reflexivity, postcolonialism and cosmopolitanism on identity formation in a neoliberal economy, this thesis proposes the notion of 'malleable success.' A working holiday is seen as a journey for Taiwanese young people's identity formation. On the one hand, they try to become successful in Australia through their aspirations of becoming cosmopolitan subjects. On the other hand, they need to negotiate neoliberal ideology, social stratifications, and socio-cultural expectations of being a successful young person in Taiwanese society. Hence, success, for them, is malleable and shifting. The idea of malleable success is, I argue, essential for interpreting these young people's identity formation in neoliberal Taiwan.
Supervisor: Lin, Xiaodong ; Hanquinet, Laurie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available