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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Education revisited : mate preferences among Canadian-born and Chinese immigrant online daters Xiao, Siqi


Existing quantitative research shows that people tend to partner with someone of a similar educational level. However, quantitative measurements are not sufficient to capture how individuals perceive the significance of education in potential partners. This study draws on interviews with 26 Canadian-born and 24 Chinese immigrant online daters to examine individuals’ perceptions of education in their search for partners. The findings show that, although education mattered to some participants, Canadian-born participants articulated their educational preferences for potential partners in less culturally overt ways than Chinese immigrants did. Canadian-born daters often framed their educational preferences as preferring intellectual compatibility, whereas Chinese immigrant daters used higher education received in North America to predict cultural capital specific to the host country. While participants who valued education emphasized its signaling effect in assuring cultural matching and intellectual compatibility, there were also participants who deemed higher education unimportant. Chinese immigrants’ indifference to education reflected the devaluation of immigrants’ academic qualifications as human capital in the Canadian labor market. Meanwhile, Canadian-born participants who rejected a “snobby” view of education and success valued an omnivorous taste of intelligence; in doing so, they formed symbolic boundaries that effectively discounted the educational achievements and experiences of non-Canadian-born “others.” This research contributes to the literature by uncovering new forms of status memberships that result from nuanced evaluative distinctions.

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