Understanding the symbolic capital of intercultural interactions

a case study of international students in Australia

Lien Pham*, Ly Tran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)


Intercultural interaction plays an important role in contributing to international students’ learning and wellbeing in the host country. While research on international students’ intercultural interactions reveals multifaceted aspects of personal and social factors, there is a tendency to consider language barrier and cultural differences as individual factors that constrain their interactions with the institutional community. Drawing on 105 interviews with international students in Australian vocational education and training and dual sector institutions, this paper examines international students’ intercultural interactions in host institutions and the factors that act as enablers or inhibitors for intercultural interactions. It highlights the social and structural conditions in creating symbolic capital of elitist Anglo-Australian culture and English language, and social differentiation. This paper offers insights into understanding the legitimacy of such elitism, in hope that future conceptualisation, research and practices of intercultural interactions may locate international students within their cultural diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-224
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015

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