The Social Construction and Enactment of Newcomers' Race/Ethnicity: The Case of Chinese Students at the University of Iowa

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:36
Location: Hörsaal 4C KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Alison BIANCHI, University of Iowa, USA
David BIAGAS, College of Wooster, USA
With the advent of globalization, movement of individuals from one society to another has risen dramatically. When newcomers are introduced into a social system, social psychological processes are affected. For example, if the newcomers are perceived as a threat to those in high status social groups, there may be social identity processes involving competition for the position of “high status social group”. If the newcomers are perceived as being low status, then individuals who may not have been low status in their societies of origin now face social psychological processes during which they are treated as being “less than”. We are examining these ideas at The University of Iowa by using the current case of the large influx of students from the People’s Republic of China, a trend presently happening at most “Big Ten” universities. The administration at UIowa predicts that by 2020, about 10% of the undergraduate population will be from the PRC – a sharp increase from the 2000’s. We are interested in studying the social psychological aspects of this phenomenon. For instance, how are the White students at UIowa understanding this influx? Are they using the cultural belief systems about Asians and Asian Americans to negotiate their interactions with the students from the PRC? Are they using the perceptions of the “model minority” for these newcomers, and are they perceiving them to have higher competence and social esteem, and therefore affording them more influence during group encounters? Or, are they socially reconstructing cultural beliefs about the rank order of social groups within the social structure, and are perceiving these students to be low status, and thus are affording them less influence within group encounters? We present experimental studies designed to answer these questions about the interactions between Whites and Asians at this moment in history at UIowa.