Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Communications


Communication Studies


"As a result of the exponential growth of international commerce and academic exchange between Mainland China and the United States, this thesis examines the present-day validity of those Chinese and American cultural characteristics, such as practices and values, historically understood as defining cultural differences. Using Babiker's Cultural Distance Index (Babiker, Cox, & Miller, 1980) questionnaire (an institutionally established instrument since 1980), 45 Mainland Chinese student-sojourners conveyed their perceptions of cultural differences found in daily living. Chinese participants identified many cultural attributes that still affect the migrant's perceptions of difference. These attributes are language, food, education costs, and leisure activities. Participants found the CDI attributes, climate, modernity, elder esteem, and social dating conventions, of no definable difference between cultures. Participants also identified new cultural attributes pertinent to present-day comparisons of China and the United States. These are lifestyle, the significance of education, transportation, sexuality, and politics. The outcome of a follow-up, open-ended questionnaire elaborated these findings. The thesis discusses returnees' perceptions and attitudes of cultural differences as established in the Cultural Distance Index and how present-day changes in cultural relations require a modified instrument for measuring distance. Also addressed are other issues related to the difficulty of measuring cultural distance today such as changes in migrant student's perception and identification of its own culture after studying abroad--understood as transculturation. The study concludes with suggested areas of focus for future development in intercultural competency within the context of Sino-American student exchange"--Document.


Typescript. Vita.

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