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Communication and conflict between American -born Chinese and their immigrant parents

Victoria Wen-Chee Chen, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Conflict between American-born Chinese and their immigrant parents bears a unique configuration in terms of the interaction between the bicultural Chinese Americans and their immigrant parents. This study examined the communication patterns and conflicts in seven Chinese American families by eliciting accounts from the younger generation in an interview. The results suggest that there are incommensurate cultural logics between the parents and the children, whose socialization is embedded in disparate cultural traditions. However, the Chinese American informants did not perceive their conflicts with their parents as incommensurate. Rather, they treated conflicts as though they were incompatible or incomparable.^ The study also challenges the common advice to compromise given to Chinese Americans who find themselves struggling between Chinese and North American cultures within which they are simultaneously enmeshed. It is concluded that suggestions such as achieving the balance between two cultural traditions or compromising are imaginary in light of the concrete actions performed by these bicultural individuals. The notion of compromise for these Chinese Americans can be understood as reconstitution of one cultural tradition, or transformation of the extant cultural practices. ^

Subject Area

Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Chen, Victoria Wen-Chee, "Communication and conflict between American -born Chinese and their immigrant parents" (1988). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8906267.