Volume 12 Issue 3 (2023)

Studying in Shanghai and its impacts on Thai International Students’ Opinions towards the Chinese People and China

pp. 103-125  |  Published Online: July 2023  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2023.123.5

Yi Lin, Worapinya Kingminghae

Abstract

Background/purpose – The extent and mechanisms through which studying abroad influences international students’ opinions towards the host country and its people remain a relatively understudied area. Drawing upon intergroup contact theory and Bourdieu’s concept of “habitus,” this study aims to fill this gap by examining the impact of studying in Shanghai on the opinions of Thai tertiary-level students towards China and the Chinese people.

Materials/methods – This study employed a counterfactual method to assess the influence of studying in China on the attitude change of Thai students. To evaluate this impact, two pre-pandemic samples were collected, one from Thailand and the other from China.

Results – The double-robust IPWRA estimator used in the study found that direct experience with the Chinese people and China’s development in Shanghai significantly improved the Thai students’ attitudes towards China and the Chinese people by around 20%. Moreover, individuals whose fathers were involved in business or regularly navigate market risks and opportunities exhibited a higher sensitivity to changes in their opinions towards China. However, individuals whose fathers possess cultural capital and had stable employment demonstrated a heightened sensitivity to changes in their attitudes towards the Chinese people.

Conclusion – Both intergroup contact conditions and students’ social origins were key factors that influenced nuanced attitude changes of international students towards their host country and its people.

Keywords: international student, intergroup contact, public diplomacy, overseas experience, attitude change.

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