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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Third-culture kids are often overlooked by mainstream culture and rarely call one place "home." American sociologist and anthropologist Ruth Hill Useem coined the term "third-culture kid" in 1976 to describe children whose parents are employed overseas and are attached to a third, interstitial culture distinct from their country of citizenship (first culture) and their country of residence (second culture). Traditional third-culture kids (TCKs) include the children of military members, missionaries, diplomats, and foreign service workers. The current body of literature examining the lives and patterns of TCKs centers primarily on psychological and sociocultural research, and little attention has been devoted to the study of the communicative practices of both military dependents and missionary kids. In this qualitative study, the following research questions are addressed: RQ1) How do the self-disclosure tendencies of military dependents differ from missionary kids regarding relationship formation? and RQ2) Is the process of self-disclosure expedited or delayed for military dependents compared to missionary kids in relationship formation? Utilizing Altman and Taylor's social penetration theory, responses from two separate focus groups of college-aged military dependents and missionary kids were coded for an interpretive thematic analysis of participants’ respective self-disclosure tendencies.

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