Communication strategies contributing to the positive identities of third culture kids: an intercultural communication perspective on identity

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This study aims to deepen the understanding of how Third Culture Kids (TCKs) receive and maintain long-term perceptions of positive identity. The literature review surveys bodies of research related to

This study aims to deepen the understanding of how Third Culture Kids (TCKs) receive and maintain long-term perceptions of positive identity. The literature review surveys bodies of research related to Third Culture Kids, intercultural communication conceptions of identity, and communication strategies of identity management. The research framework is a response to Martin and Nakayama’s (2010) call for a dialectical approach to the study of intercultural communication, and reflects an interpretive/critical/activist dialectic paradigm.

This qualitative multi-method research project gathered survey, interview, and visual data through online platforms. Participants were TCKs over age 40 who self-selected as having a positive identity. A modified grounded analysis revealed several key findings connected to agency development, choice making, communication filters, and framing of positivity. Factors contributing to characteristics of a positive identity included sending organization, total number and frequency of moves, and degrees of difference among their cultural contexts.