Identity and miscommunication: Some experiences of international design students

Year: 2001

Author: McWhinnie, Louise

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Bourdieu writes: "The whole system of education as a particular historical structure finds expression in the communication which takes place between teachers and students. Misunderstanding and the fiction that there is no misunderstanding are inseparable phenomena." (1994) This paper will report doctoral research with the working title 'A Naturalistic Inquiry into Culture & the Study of Visual Communication by Asian International students within the context of Australian Universities.' In a series of interviews with three students from one of the two universities in my sample, I explore how their experiences as students of visual communication reproduce, produce and re-produce new cultural subjectivities and identities. Utilising an explanatory framework 'after Bourdieu' I report on a sample of the various layers and contradictions of communication, miscommunication, understanding and misunderstandings, myths and fictions emerging from the analysis of the rich details of the interview data. These interviews from the study's second stage of data collection are supplemented by interviews with academic staff. The paper draws upon the results of the first stage of data collection, a questionnaire, broadly sampling first and second year students from both courses. This area of research draws upon the researcher's experiences as a design lecturer in Australia, Malaysia and the UK.