Expanding flexible citizenship: Chinese international school students and global mobilities for higher education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This study aims to interrogate and expand on the flexible citizenship framework by illuminating students' emergent identities and imagined future mobilities in China's expanding international school sector.

Design/methodology/approach: In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with international school students and their parents in Shenzhen, covering their motivations for overseas higher education, experience with international schooling, self-perceived identities and imagined futures.

Findings: The participants aspired to overseas higher education for both symbolic capital attainment and embodied cultural cultivation to thrive in a globalised world. They expressed confidence that international schooling experiences prepared students for mobility to Western higher education and cultivated globally-oriented identities while not undermining their Chinese roots. They imagined their futures in terms of considerable flexibility, with a rising China viewed as an attractive and feasible option for career development.

Research limitations/implications: This research provides an enriched understanding of a new generation of globally mobile Chinese students. The participants held distinctively different outlooks, aspirations and attitudes than depicted in the flexible citizenship framework, which emphasised a one-dimensional and instrumentalist portrayal of Chinese international students. This study discusses cross-generational changes in the desire for overseas education and a global-national outlook among young people in the context of significant social transformations in urban China.

Originality/value: The originality of this study is in expanding the flexible citizenship framework with reference to the emergent identities and pathways of students in the international schooling sector in China. Copyright © 2022 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Transformations in Chinese Societies
Early online dateSept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Sept 2022

Citation

Ma, Y., & Wright, E. (2022). Expanding flexible citizenship: Chinese international school students and global mobilities for higher education. Social Transformations in Chinese Societies. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1108/STICS-05-2022-0010

Keywords

  • Flexible citizenship
  • Global citizenship
  • International schools
  • Identity
  • China

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