Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Heying Jenny Zhan - Chair

Second Advisor

Elisabeth O.Burgess

Third Advisor

Denise A. Donnelley


This thesis explores and identifies patterns of dating attitudes and behaviors among second-generation Chinese Americans. Grounded theory is applied to analyze data from in-depth interviews with 20 second-generation Chinese Americans in metro- Atlanta area. By using a social constructionist model of ethnicity, I uncovered a subtle process by which the second-generation Chinese youths constructed their dating values and identities through both differentiating and integrating their parents¡¯ and white peers¡¯ dating cultures and gender norms. Second-generation Chinese American youths constructed and reconstructed their own dating values, gender norms, and further ethnic identities through various processes of picking and choosing from both cultures. I argue that straight-line assimilation theories, which assume adaptation into mainstream American culture, do not explain the complexity of the dating culture created by the second-generation Chinese American youths. In conclusion, the findings of this study revealed a new dimension of the social construction of ethnic identity: the agentic dynamics of constructing the second-generation Chinese American identity.