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Acculturating again: Taiwanese migrants’ enduring COVID-19 coping paradox in the UK

Yen, D.; Cappellini, B.; Hendy, J.; Ming-Yao, J

Acculturating again: Taiwanese migrants’ enduring COVID-19 coping paradox in the UK Thumbnail


Authors

D. Yen

J. Hendy

J Ming-Yao



Abstract

Purpose
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe challenges to ethnic minorities in the UK. While the experiences of migrants are both complex and varied depending on individuals' social class, race, cultural proximity to the host country and acculturation levels, more in-depth studies are necessary to fully understand how COVID-19 affects specific migrant groups and their health. Taiwanese migrants were selected because they are an understudied group. Also, there were widespread differences in pandemic management between the UK and Taiwan, making this group an ideal case for understanding how their acculturation journey can be disrupted by a crisis.

Design/methodology/approach
Qualitative data were collected at two different time points, at the start of the UK pandemic (March/April 2020) and six months on (October/November 2020), to explore migrant coping experiences over time. Theoretically, the authors apply acculturation theory through the lens of coping, while discussing health-consumption practices, as empirical evidence.

Findings
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, participants worked hard to achieve high levels of integration in the UK. The pandemic changed this; participants faced unexpected changes in the UK’s sociocultural structures. They were forced to exercise the layered and complex “coping with coping” in a hostile host environment that signalled their new marginalised status. They faced impossible choices, from catching a life-threatening disease to being seen as overly cautious. Such experience, over time, challenged their integration to the host country, resulting in a loss of faith in the UK’s health system, consequently increasing separation from the host culture and society.

Research limitations/implications
It is important to note that the Taiwanese sample recruited through Facebook community groups is biased and has a high level of homogeneity. These participants were well-integrated, middle-class migrants who were highly educated, relatively resourceful and active on social media. More studies are needed to fully understand the impact on well-being and acculturation of migrants from different cultural, contextual and social backgrounds. This being the case, the authors can speculate that migrants with less resource are likely to have found the pandemic experience even more challenging. More studies are needed to fully understand migrant experience from different backgrounds.

Practical implications
Public health policymakers are advised to dedicate more resources to understand migrants' experiences in the host country. In particular, this paper has shown how separation, especially if embraced temporarily, is not necessarily a negative outcome to be corrected with specific policies. It can be strategically adopted by migrants as a way of defending their health and well-being from an increasingly hostile environment. Migrants' home country experience provides vicarious learning opportunities to acquire good practices. Their voices should be encouraged rather than in favour of a surprising orthodox and rather singular approach in the discussion of public health management.

Social implications
The paper has clear public health policy implications. Firstly, public health policymakers are advised to dedicate more resources to understand migrants' experiences in the host country. Acknowledging migrants' voice is a critical first step to contribute to the development of a fair and inclusive society. Secondly, to retain skilful migrants and avoid a future brain-drain, policymakers are advised to advance existing infrastructure to provide more incentives to support and retain migrant talents in the post-pandemic recovery phase.

Originality/value
This paper reveals how a group of previously well-integrated migrants had to exercise “coping with coping” during the COVID crisis. This experience, over time, challenged their integration to the host country, resulting in a loss of faith in the UK’s health system, consequently increasing separation from the host culture and society. It contributes to the understanding of acculturation by showing how a such crisis can significantly disrupt migrants' acculturation journey, challenging them to re-acculturate and reconsider their identity stance. It shows how separation was indeed a good option for migrants for protecting their well-being from a newly hostile host environment.

Citation

Yen, D., Cappellini, B., Hendy, J., & Ming-Yao, J. (2024). Acculturating again: Taiwanese migrants’ enduring COVID-19 coping paradox in the UK. International Marketing Review, 41(7), 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-09-2022-0196

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 14, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 26, 2023
Publication Date 2024
Deposit Date Oct 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 2, 2024
Journal International Marketing Review
Print ISSN 0265-1335
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 7
Pages 1-22
DOI https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-09-2022-0196
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1803700

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