Chinese and Taiwanese Identities in Taiwan as Epistemic Challengers

In: International Journal of Taiwan Studies
Feng-yi Chu Independent Researcher, Former Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan,

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This paper deals with two theoretical dilemmas concerning Chinese and Taiwanese identities in Taiwan: their vague classification and the unclear dynamics of change. By using grounded theory to analyse 110 in-depth interviews, the research identifies three crucial themes behind individuals’ conceptualisations and interactions with the two identities: (1) ethical narrative, (2) cultural hierarchy, and (3) political ideology. Further theoretical comparisons generate a new epistemic framework which understands identity as a discourse of value: identity in its essence is merely a generic idea; only when associated with other discourses of value can an identity acquire full functions such as arousing people’s sentiments and mobilising them to take actions. The theory suggests that Chinese and Taiwanese identities should be regarded as unique generic concepts attached with distinctive values. People seek identity change upon becoming aware that the original identity can no longer represent the values they have dearly cherished and followed.

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