A Bourdieusian Analysis of the Sociocultural Capital of Chinese International Graduate Students in the United States





Chinese international graduate students, cultural capital, higher education, international education, social capital


For the last decade, Chinese international graduate students (CIGS) have represented the largest portion of international graduate students in the United States. Previous research studies on language barriers and cultural differences have revealed that CIGS experience difficulties in adapting to the American educational system (Zhang-Wu, 2018). Few researchers have critically examined the experiences of CIGS on a more organizational level. In this qualitative study, we analyzed interviews with CIGS utilizing a Bourdieusian (1986a) framework to identify the social and cultural capital (SCC) that CIGS possessed. We argue that SCC concepts can help theoretically and critically examine the experiences of international students as a minority student group in the United States. The results from our in-depth semistructured interviews imply that CIGS are excluded from access to and possession of the SCC necessary to adapt to academic, cultural, and social life in the United States.

Author Biographies

Xinxin Wang, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Xinxin Wang, MPP, is a PhD candidate in the strand of Cultural Studies and Literacies at the School of Education, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on educational policy analysis, including areas of international and comparative education, higher education, critical multicultural education, and educational policies evaluation. 

Rebekah Freed, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Rebekah Freed, MA, is a PhD student in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Sciences program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her current research interests include how students self regulate while learning about difficult topics


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How to Cite

Wang, X., & Freed, R. (2021). A Bourdieusian Analysis of the Sociocultural Capital of Chinese International Graduate Students in the United States. Journal of International Students, 11(1), 41–59. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v11i1.952



Research Articles (English)