An Ethnography of Taiwanese International Students’ Identity Movements

Habitus Modification and Improvisation

  • Jasper Kun-Ting Hsieh James Cook University, Australia
Keywords: adaptation, habitus, identity, international students, movement


Many studies focus on Chinese-speaking international students’ adaptation issues inside and outside educational settings in the West. A strong emphasis has been placed on identifying Chinese-speaking international students’ problems and solving them through educational programs, pedagogies, and curricula. This emphasis categorizes these students as a cohort that have issues learning and living in Western societies, a categorization that ignores identity as complex and context-dependent. Drawing on a Bourdieuian poststructuralist perspective, this 18-month-long study documented the experiences of nine Taiwanese international students at different Australian universities before, during, and after their 1-year postgraduate education in Australia. This study compared their experiences and highlighted the complexity of identity movements. The findings present habitus modification and habitus improvisation, two notions developed from a Bourdieuian perspective. In conclusion, this study encourages reassessment of the standard notions of adaptation and prompts further exploration of how international students use their overseas experiences in the home context.


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Author Biography

Jasper Kun-Ting Hsieh, James Cook University, Australia

JASPER KUN-TING HSIEH, PhD, is an educational researcher in the area of International Education, the Sociology of Education and TESOL.


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How to Cite
Hsieh, J. K.-T. (2020). An Ethnography of Taiwanese International Students’ Identity Movements. Journal of International Students, 10(4), 836-852.
Research Articles