An Ethnography of Taiwanese International Students’ Identity Movements

Habitus Modification and Improvisation


  • Jasper Kun-Ting Hsieh James Cook University, Australia



adaptation, habitus, identity, international students, movement


Many studies focus on Chinese-speaking international students’ adaptation issues inside and outside educational settings in the West. A strong emphasis has been placed on identifying Chinese-speaking international students’ problems and solving them through educational programs, pedagogies, and curricula. This emphasis categorizes these students as a cohort that have issues learning and living in Western societies, a categorization that ignores identity as complex and context-dependent. Drawing on a Bourdieuian poststructuralist perspective, this 18-month-long study documented the experiences of nine Taiwanese international students at different Australian universities before, during, and after their 1-year postgraduate education in Australia. This study compared their experiences and highlighted the complexity of identity movements. The findings present habitus modification and habitus improvisation, two notions developed from a Bourdieuian perspective. In conclusion, this study encourages reassessment of the standard notions of adaptation and prompts further exploration of how international students use their overseas experiences in the home context.

Author Biography

Jasper Kun-Ting Hsieh, James Cook University, Australia

JASPER KUN-TING HSIEH, PhD, is an educational researcher in the area of International Education, the Sociology of Education and TESOL.


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How to Cite

Hsieh, J. K.-T. (2020). An Ethnography of Taiwanese International Students’ Identity Movements: Habitus Modification and Improvisation. Journal of International Students, 10(4), 836–852.



Research Articles (English)