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American Thai Couples Intercultural Relations Paper

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Sociology

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Dissertation research
Perceptions of American/Thai couples on problems and prospects of intercultural
relations in Thailand and the United States
Background
In the age of globalization, people from different backgrounds have increasingly
become interconnected than before. Even though the world is more super-diverse and
multicultural, there is still intergroup conflict strengthened by misunderstanding between
races, ethnicities, cultures and religions in every part of the world. A parallel analysis informs
us that increasing numbers of global citizens are choosing to enter into an interracial
relationship proven to be one of intense introspection and personal growth. A powerful
outcome is the potential of interracial/intercultural participants to move toward alleviating
stereotypes, prejudice, ethnocentrism, xenophobia and racism in our world. Thailand, as part
of the Southeast Asian community, has experienced intercultural contacts with people from
different backgrounds since the emergence of the country. Various studies have been
conducted on intercultural communication and intercultural relations between Thais and
foreigners in several aspects. One of these studies was “Communication competence and
acculturation of foreigners living in Bangkok” conducted by Tachcha Wittayawiroj, a
Master’s student at Rangsit University who observed that the main factor affecting the
successful adjustment of expats in his study was the length of stay. Long-term expats tended
to adjust to Thai culture more successfully than short-term expats. This was because they had
more time to interact with Thais and learn about Thai culture (Tachcha 2009, 87). In addition
to the previous study, the work done by Henry Holmes and Suchada Tangtongtavy, “Working
With the Thais: A Guide to Managing in Thailand” illustrates how Thai people thought and
worked. It certainly demonstrates some of the serious issues Western expats faced at work
(Holmes and Suchada 1997). However, no research has been conducted regarding
perceptions of American/Thai couples. This study is based on qualitative and action research
methods using in-depth interviews with forty participants. The purpose of this study is to
examine the nature and impact of problems in intercultural relations among American-Thai
couples. This research emerges from my own questions about how learning about
intercultural relations can lead to a healthier multicultural society and the ways we can
benefit from positive intergroup relations.

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Research questions
1. What are American-Thai couples’ views on the nature of intercultural relationships in
Thailand and the United States?
2. What are the life experiences/problems of American-Thai individuals who are in
intercultural relationship?
3. How have levels of attachment to their cultural backgrounds affected their relationship
with their spouses?
4. In what ways do American-Thai couples resolve issues and find common ground related to
cultural differences?
Aims of the research
To address the major questions above, there are four main purposes of this research. First,
this thesis aims to understand American-Thai couples’ perceptions of the status quo of
intercultural relationships in Thailand and the United States. Second, this research is to
investigate and identify problems of intercultural relationships in Thailand and the United
States. The third objective of this study is to examine the effects of intercultural relationships
on these American-Thai couples’ cultural identity. The final goal of this study is to make
recommendations that will help solve the problems of intercultural relationships. The result
of this study can help us better understand the currents issues of intercultural relationships in
Thailand/United States and the individual experience of the American-Thai couples.
Literature reviews
Interracial/intercultural relationships
Interracial relationships are becoming a new phenomenon that widely occurs across the
globe, but there is a long way to go before society can overcome racial bias and prejudice.
According to an article, “Interracial marriage: Who is ‘marrying out’?” by Wendy Wang
which is based on a Pew Research Center analysis of census data, men are much more likely
than women to be involved with someone of different races. However, the gender implication
goes in the opposite direction for Asian ethnic groups because female Asians are much more
likely than male Asians to marry someone of a different race. Only 12% of black women
married outside of their race (Wang 2015). Misty Michelle Wilson found that African

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Dissertation research Perceptions of American/Thai couples on problems and prospects of intercultural relations in Thailand and the United States Background In the age of globalization, people from different backgrounds have increasingly become interconnected than before. Even though the world is more super-diverse and multicultural, there is still intergroup conflict strengthened by misunderstanding between races, ethnicities, cultures and religions in every part of the world. A parallel analysis informs us that increasing numbers of global citizens are choosing to enter into an interracial relationship proven to be one of intense introspection and personal growth. A powerful outcome is the potential of interracial/intercultural participants to move toward alleviating stereotypes, prejudice, ethnocentrism, xenophobia and racism in our world. Thailand, as part of the Southeast Asian community, has experienced intercultural contacts with people from different backgrounds since the emergence of the country. Various studies have been conducted on intercultural communication and intercultural relations between Thais and foreigners in several aspects. One of these studies was “Communication competence and acculturation of foreigners living in Bangkok” conducted by Tachcha Wittayawiroj, a Master’s student at Rangsit University who observed that the main factor affecting the successful adjustment of expats in his study was the length of stay. Long-term expats tended to adjust ...
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