Raising an International Child: Parenting of Global Cultural Capital in Taiwan

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal IOeG (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Yi-Ping SHIH, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan
How do ordinary people perceive and respond to a globalizing future? Recently, scholars point out a new phenomenon that global cultural capital (GCC) has become a new legitimate culture and status marker in East Asia. This article evaluates the concept of GCC by exploring how parents perceive and practice “raising an international child”. Interviews with 30 families (including fathers, mothers and one child) reveal that the conceptualization of “being international” is diversified in three major types due to the cultural hierarchy and colonial memories in Taiwan: the Occidentals, the Omnivore, and the Japanese styles. The Occidental parents who pursue western cultural capital have a rosy perception of European and American cultures,  emphasize the importance of English proficiency, and they utilize GCC as a pragmatic tool to maximize their children’s future advantages. In contrast to this western adoration, the Omnivore parents attempt to prepare their children with values of multiculturalism. They are critical toward the mainstream culture and emphasize the importance of being open-minded and flexible to adapting foreign culture. For Omnivores, GCC is the by-product of being international, but not the primary focus of parenting. Lastly, a minority group of parents in Taiwan maintain their family memories and ties from the Japanese colonial era, usually across multiple generations. These families are connected to the global world via the ties and through the lens of Japanese culture rather than a western perspective. In sum, this paper further confirms that GCC is class-biased and has been growing into a new field of distinction in Taiwan. “Raising an international child” has become a hallmark vocabulary that many upper-middle class parents discussed in interviews. The concepts and practices of GCC vary mostly by parents’ economic status, educational background, as well as their own taste toward local culture.