Talk on Coming to terms: Scaffolding family conflict reconciliation model from Taiwan tongzhi (LGBTQ+) and parents

Key information

11:00 am to 12:30 pm
Virtual Event

About this event

Rita Jhang
This session will be held using Microsoft Teams .

*Please be aware that this session follows British Summer Time (BST) .


For LGBTQ+ people, coming out to family is an important matter. Currently, literature on this subject is mainly from US/Western European cultural contexts, which focuses primarily on parents and their underage children and the underage children's verbal disclosure of non-heterosexual identity. These studies provide us a good foundation to understand parent-LGBTQ child relationships, yet there is much to be learned. Using interview data from 38 adult tongzhi (a term used in most Mandarin-speaking societies that roughly translated to LGBTQ+), 14 parents of an adult tongzhi child, and 1-year field observations, this study adopts the constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) to establish a Scaffolding family conflict reconciliation model (Jhang, 2018, 2019).

This model reconceptualizes coming out as coming to terms (rather than as disclosure) and captures the processual and relational nature of coming to terms. This coming to terms (i.e., reconciliation) process is made of constant psychological comparison of relating and corresponding scaffolding behaviors. The five types of comparisons are personal experience as the baseline for comparison, social comparison, measuring against the norms, measuring against the authority, and putting things in perspective. Informed by both proximal and distal discourse (Baxter, 2010), these comparisons guide individuals' scaffolding efforts to reach their relational goals (such as a parent setting up blind dates for the child or the child bringing her "friend" home for dinner). Notably, the mutually accepted family relationship is not a final destination. Instead, the acceptance could be compartmentalized and discounted, and for some, it is an indefinite process.

This model formalizes the parents' agency in the parent-tongzhi child relationship and refocuses scholarly attention on the parent-adult child relationship. It diversifies the field of family studies by using data from Taiwan, with the potential to be applied in various cultural contexts and family conflict situations. This dissertation has won the National Communication Association Santra Petronio Family Communication 2020 Outstanding Dissertation Award.


Speaker Bio

Dr. JhuCin Rita Jhang is a Project Assistant Professor at the Global Health Program in the National Taiwan University. She is also the president of North American Taiwan Studies Association (term 2021-2022). She has a Ph.D. degree in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and her research involves family communication, LGBTQ issues, gender and sexuality, and health communication and advocacy. Aspiring to be an activist researcher, she currently studies the negative health impact of exclusionary policies and cultural practices in Taiwan and global contexts.


Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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