Accepted Papers:

TCKs: privileged but not migrants  


Ann Baker Cottrell (San Diego State University)

Paper Short Abstract:

Privileged, globally mobile TCKs share much with other child expats & migrants; sponsorship creates differences which are explored. Discussion of Third Culture to understand TCKs. Increasing global mobility blurs but doesn’t erase distinctions including categorizations based on privilege & mobility

Paper long abstract:

Panel description contrasts disadvantaged and privileged migrants. We must also distinguish:

Migrants: move once, assimilation (eventually), expected.

Expatriates live outside "home" country temporarily, possibly long term, in one or many countries, and are not expected to assimilate.

Literature suggests migrants are disadvantaged and expatriates privileged, although people of all SES and nationality participate in both kinds of global mobility.

This paper concerns Third Culture Kids (TCKs). For many, any child accompanying migrant or expat parents transnationally is a TCK; some reserve TCK for privileged migrants. TCKs are privileged but not migrants. Having much in common with other internationally mobile children, they differ from migrants and even from other privileged expat children.

Understanding "Third Culture" helps explain TCKs' distinctiveness. Third Cultures are created and shared by "men" representing different societies relating their societies or sections there of to each other. Third cultures and their communities are linking, not blended. While Third Culture communities are all privileged, third cultures can be differentiated based on: historical context, sponsor, participants' nationalities.

TCKs are children raised in a third culture and move within the Third Culture, especially if attending international schools. A TCKs' primary culture and identity is Third Culture not a national culture. Relating to many cultures, they are not blended, bicultural, or hybrid. Regardless of sponsor, passport, or countries of residence TCKs recognize a common cultural upbringing.

In the contemporary world, global mobility patterns blur categories and individuals may be cross-national in several ways or be citizens of multiple countries, complicating research.

Panel P096
Child migrants or 'third culture kids'? Approaches to children and privileged mobility (ANTHROMOB)