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CONCEPTIONS OF PATRIOTISM AMONG CHINESE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN U.S. HIGHER EDUCATION: A PHENOMENOGRAPHIC STUDY
Chinese international students make up the largest group of international students in the United States, especially in the higher education sector. In the context of rising patriotism and nationalism in the China and the U.S. accompanied by deteriorating China-U.S. relationship and some recent incidents that showed Chinese international students’ intense patriotic sentiments, this study explored the ways in which Chinese international students in U.S. higher education perceive patriotism. More specifically, the study aims to answer two research questions: 1. How do Chinese international students in the U.S. conceptualize patriotism? 2. What are the factors that impact Chinese international students’ construction of patriotism?
The study adopted phenomenography as the research methodology and recruited 15 participants with varied backgrounds from a Midwest University. In-depth interviews were conducted and analyzed to generate the different categories that described ways of perceiving patriotism. The findings demonstrated five categories of patriotism: irrational patriotism, extreme patriotism, identity patriotism, constructive patriotism and cosmopolitan patriotism. The five categories had complex relationships with identity patriotism at the core. The study also revealed that Chinese international students’ construction of patriotism was impacted by formal education, extracurricular activities, media propaganda, family’s influence, Chinese culture, and their own life experiences. This study revealed the dynamic and multifaceted political stances of Chinese international students and offered more explanations for their patriotic behaviors instead of portraying them as the brainwashed generation. Practical implications and recommendations for future research were offered based on the findings of this study.