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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Intercultural-intergenerational conflict experienced by Korean-Canadian mothers Seo, Seonae


The purpose of this study was to obtain cross-cultural insights into the family dynamics of Korean-Canadians during their transitions as immigrants, by asking six Korean-Canadian mothers about the family conflicts they had with their children, that were of an intercultural nature. The methodology consisted of a qualitative research design, informed by a post-positivist epistemological viewpoint. In semi-structured interviews, six Korean-Canadian mothers spoke at length about what triggered their Intercultural-Intergenerational conflict with their adolescent children, about how they responded to such conflicts, and about how they saw these conflicts in terms of their children’s cultural adaptation/identity. Audiotapes of the interviews were transcribed, then coded and categorized according to principles of thematic analysis and grounded theory. To ensure authenticity, reflexivity was built into all stages of the research. From the categories analyzed, there emerged six general triggers of conflict, (such as the adolescents’ style of communicating with their mothers, or the mothers’ attitudes to their children’s “culture shedding”); five general ways in which the mothers tended to respond to conflict (from emotional outbursts to attempts at adjusting); and three measures of what, for the mothers, constituted satisfactory adaptation, by the children, to the host culture (success in school, retention of Korean identity, and the ability to cope with any racism that they might encounter). The study concludes with some suggestions for a more sophisticated social work praxis, and for service provision that reaches beyond a purely economic understanding of immigrants’ problems, as the findings speak to a high degree of complexity in a shifting immigrant demographic.

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