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Title: Vernacular cosmopolitanism in the context of neoliberalism : the case of plurilingual Asian students in Japanese higher education
Author: Sato, Tomoka
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 5678
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis investigates Asian students who left their country to study in Japanese universities. Generally, Asian students who are studying in Western countries tend to be regarded as having an affluent family background and as belonging to an elite group who are equipped with plurilingual skills. Their affluence and elite social backgrounds are due to the fact that some Asian countries have achieved rapid economic growth in the wave of the neoliberal era in Asia which began at the turn of the millennium (Park, Hill, & Saito, 2012). At the same time, however, it is said that these Asian students tend to lack cultural openness, that they are often ignorant of inequality, and that in addition to being from an elite, they are in their character elitist. Therefore, they are referred to as "students of the new global elite" (Vandrick, 2011, p. 160) or as neoliberal "global cosmopolitans" (Bhabha, 1994). However, such a view is not well-founded in non-Western contexts. Hence, the aim of this study is to understand whether, how, and to what extent they have been influenced by neoliberal discourses in the development of their plurilingualism and to investigate their behavior as cosmopolitans. Drawing on the notions of vernacular cosmopolitanism (Werbner, 2006, 2008) including its family concepts of cosmopolitanism, this study challenges the popularized idea of global (neoliberal) cosmopolitanism. The study documents the life stories of six participants. A narrative-oriented approach to data collection was employed, and thematic analysis was conducted. The findings show that the notion of neoliberal cosmopolitanism is contested by the intercultural thoughts and actions of vernacular cosmopolitans. At the same time, the fact that their attitude toward English was also partially influenced by neoliberal discourses was made evident by this study. The findings also reveal that the notion of vernacular cosmopolitanism focuses too much on agency, the ability or will to act of individuals, while it neglects structural pressures, power relations, ideologies and discourses that construct subjectivity. Based on the findings, the thesis concludes with an exploration of the relationship between power, agency and subjectivity which draws upon Allen (2002) and Foucault (1982) in order to point to a critical perspective on the notion of vernacular cosmopolitanism as a way forward. Finally, for the future studies, this thesis proposes a cosmopolitan pedagogy.
Supervisor: O'Regan, J. ; Diamantidaki, F. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available