Extrinsic Learning, Corporate Streaming, and Ungrounded Voting: The Role of STEM Schooling in the Political Socialization of Asian Canadian Youths

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Bing, Alex




This ethnographic study analyzes a collection of schooling, childhood, and migration narratives from Asian Canadian youths who have entered careers related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The study centres on a group of Asian migrant engineering alumni from a major Canadian university, and unpacks the relationship between their STEM-based scholastic socialization and their political consciousness in civic life. Through the use of qualitative methods involving semi-structured interviews supplemented by neighbourhood walking tours, the data provides a humanizing portrayal of the classed and gendered dimensions of petty bourgeois migrant life. Employing a Bourdieusian framework, analysis of the data reveals that symbolic homologies related to the fundamental tension between economic and cultural capital underpin many of the mundane tensions found in the participants' life narratives. This tension between economic and cultural capital exerts effects across multiple phases of the participants' formative years, including high school as well as university and beyond. The side that one takes in this clash of capitals is homologous with their decision to enter STEM, the subjective meaning of their discipline, the learning styles they adopt within the discipline, and the political tendencies they develop upon entering the workforce. Psychosocial analysis of their homological schema suggests that conservative political tendencies amongst the voters in this demographic stem from the inaccessibility of civic engagement, especially the inaccessibility of grounded politics in which one can see oneself represented in one's cause.


Ethnic and Racial Studies
Social Structure and Development
Sociology - Theory and Methods




Carleton University

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