Communication ETDs


Haibin Dong

Publication Date



This research is an interpretive study of the dynamics of cultural identification as enacted by Chinese individuals living overseas who participate in a virtual online community known as The study draws on intercultural communication theories of identity proposed by Carbaugh, Collier, and Hecht, as well as on my own integrative framework for the analysis of cultural identity, to explore the self-other interaction in identity enactment, the multidimensionality of identity, and the centrality of communication in processes of identification. Through the application of a qualitative analysis of online discourse, I found three primary forms of cultural identification-- perceptual, strategic, and positional cultural identification -- that reveal how online commentators make sense of their individual and group identities. Through online discussion of a variety of topics -- from China's history, East-West tensions, to academic power structures and racial hierarchies in host cultures or media stereotyping and global hegemonic relations -- and using communicative strategies like self-other comparison, advice, and ideological debate, commentators enact both a sense of group cohesiveness as well as their internal, conflictive heterogeneity. Their discourse allows for the exploration of how multiple dimensions of identity -- individuality, sociality, materiality, and spirituality -- intersect to shape the fragmentary character of cultural identification. In the particular case of the group under study, the dominant trends observed reveal that cultural identification is a process characterized by the enactment of a sense of marginalization in host societies, heightened individuality, strategic attachment to or distancing from Chinese cultural membership, and ideological divisions.




Cultural identity, Chinese overseas, Computer-mediated communication

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Rodriguez, Ilia

First Committee Member (Chair)

Condon, John

Second Committee Member

Hood, Jane

Third Committee Member

Cramer, Janet