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Identity and Belonging: First and Second Generation Chinese Canadian Youth in Alberta Open Access


Other title
Chinese youth
Chinese immigrants in Canada
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Cui, Dan
Supervisor and department
Dr. Jennifer Kelly (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Ali Abdi (Educational Policy Studies)
Dr. Alison Taylor (Educational Policy Studies)
Dr. Peter Li (Sociology)
Dr. Jerrold Kachur (Educational Policy Studies)
Dr. Sara Dorow (Sociology)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Although Chinese Canadians have been considered as one of the largest “visible minority” group in Canada, research with the children of Chinese immigrants has yet to be fully developed. Recent empirical research reveals that racialized minority children experience a greater rate of racial discrimination than do their parents and thus have a decreased sense of belonging to Canada. In this context, my research examines identification and sense of belonging among first and second generation Chinese Canadian youth in Alberta. Two major research questions raised in this study include How do Chinese Canadian youth construct identities and negotiate belonging within a Canadian multicultural society? What are the factors that contribute to their identification and sense of belonging? Using a grounded theory approach, thirty-six Chinese Canadian youth aged 15-25 in Edmonton and Calgary were interviewed. The findings of this research include two substantive identity models grounded in empirical data. Ten points of reference are identified to reveal the complicated assumptions that Chinese youth drew on in the process of their identity construction and belonging negotiation. The structural, institutional, and interpersonal factors that affect their identification and belonging are explored and discussed. These factors, I argue, illustrate that racism still subjugates Chinese youth as second-class citizens through their daily interaction with major agents of socialization such as school, family, and media. The identity label of “Chinese” is therefore far from a neutral ethnic term. It is rather a racialized identity imbued with various racist connotations. My investigation illustrates that racism functions as a discourse and hegemonic ideology which is not only maintained and imposed from non-Chinese immigrants, but also reproduced and internalized within the Chinese community. The findings from this study have significant implications for race and ethnic studies, the adaptation and integration of Chinese immigrant descendants, identity studies, sociology of education, cultural studies, social justice and equity in education.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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