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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Prestige deprivation and responses : Chinese professionals in Vancouver Lim, Bea Fung


This thesis is a qualitative study of Chinese professionals in Vancouver. Thirteen respondents were subjected to unstructured in-depth interviews guided by a questionaire schedule which seek to explore the respondents' experience of their ethnicity in their work environment and outside of it. The data gathered was interpreted in terms of status inconsistency theory. Status inconsistency theory looks at the locations of individuals in a set of status hierarchies, the relationship between these locations and its consequences. Objectively, Chinese ethnic status is inconsistent with professional status since the former is negatively evaluated in relation to most White ethnic groups while professional status is positively evaluated in relation to most other occupational statuses. The main body of the thesis deals with status inconsistency as it is translated into the subjective experiences of Chinese professionals. Ethnic status is inconsistent with professional status when it deprives Chinese professionals of the prestige available to professionals of positively evaluated ethnic groups; when Chinese professionals are treated according to their lower ethnic status rather than their higher professional status» and when Chinese professionals experience special difficulties in their work environment as a result of their ethnic status — such as difficulties in getting promotions and difficulties in communicating with superiors and colleagues. This thesis found that Chinese professionals respond to status inconsistency in various ways. The participation of Chinese professionals in ethnic organisations is particularly striking. This active involvement with one's own ethnic group appear to contradict another tendency of the respondents: the tendency to negatively evaluate their own ethnic group. In terms of status inconsistency theory, involvement in ethnic organisations dissolves the connection between professional status and ethnic status since within the ethnic group, ethnic status rankings does not apply. Occupational status is the more relevant criterion of rank within one's own ethnic group. Thus,Chinese professionals within their own ethnic group are regarded only in terms of their high professional status and thus enjoy high prestige. Negative evaluation of one's own ethnic group is, on the other hand, a confirmation of ethnic group rankings with an attempt to dissociate oneself from one's own negatively evaluated ethnic group by adopting the role of an outsider. This thesis is exploratory in nature. It aimed to find common problems and common responses. Its findings may be useful in generating hypotheses for future research.

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