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The unexplored myth of culture shock : the disempowerment of expatriate faculty wives

Disempowerment of expatriate faculty wives

Authors Hackett, Margaret Maria
Issue Date 1999
Summary This thesis describes a gradual process of disempowerment which occurred to a group of expatriate wives. In-depth interviews were conducted with nine women married to faculty at a Hong Kong university which focused upon their experiences as expatriate wives. Also brought to this study are my own experiences as an expatriate faculty wife. At a theoretical level, my assertion requires a careful consideration of the relationship between global institutions and the gender roles wives are expected to play in a patriarchal capitalist society. Also considered is the role played by current enquiries into expatriates, and how these studies serve to reinforce the very problems they set out to overcome. The results of my study suggest that disempowerment processes--slowly built up over a period of time-- can condemn expatriate wives to lesser lives than they had back in their home countries. My findings also suggest that the concept of culture shock mystifies these globalisational forces which work together to achieve this end. These findings are the antithesis of the imagery of expatriate life which is customarily associated with glamour, affluence, and empowerment: a romantic and enviable image. This portrayal, however, is at odds with the human suffering endured by expatriate faculty wives which I have witnessed and been a part of for over seven years. Unlike culture shock theory which suggests that distress expatriate wives experience is natural and short-lived, this state-of-affairs never leaves because expatriate wives have little control over the globalisational forces which cause it to arise. While expatriate wives pay a high price, the greatest beneficiaries of this payment are global institutions. For this reason, the position remains motionless and global institutions see no reason to change their policies.
Note Thesis (M.Phil.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 1999
Language English
Format Thesis
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