Ryoko Yamamoto is an Associate Professor of Sociology at SUNY Old Westbury. Her research interests focus on international migration, social stratification and the construction of deviance in contemporary Japan. More broadly, her sociological curiosity is often drawn to issues surrounding boundary-making, boundary-breaking and societal reactions to boundary-breaking. She investigated the intersection of immigration control and crime control in “Migrants as a Crime Problem: The Construction of Foreign Criminality Discourse in Contemporary Japan” (2010), “Bridging Crime and Immigration: Minority Signification in Japanese Newspaper Reports of the 2003 Fukuoka Family Murder Case” (2013), and “Convergence of Control: Immigration and Crime in Contemporary Japan” (2014, with David T. Johnson). She carries a Ph.D in Sociology from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa.
This study examines the intersection of two transformative tendencies in the contemporary world: academic globalization and international labor migration. International students are an increasingly significant segment of the intensified global movement of people. The expansion of international student mobility accelerates, and is accelerated by, two converging processes. One of these is the convergence of higher education systems across nations. In many host countries, the acquisition of international students is closely intertwined with the "internationalization" of higher education institutions, such as the expansion of degree programs with English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) in non-English speaking countries. Global convergence is experienced differently at different locales. When the composition of global cultural capital is substantially different from local cultural capital, i.e., knowledge and skills valued in a local labor market, the gap causes a tension that job-seeking graduates need to negotiate. This negotiation may pose a particular challenge to international students, who have limited local cultural knowledge and are more dependent on the university as a source of cultural learning. Another prevalent process is the political convergence of education migration and labor migration. Traditionally, international students have been considered academic sojourners who go back to their home countries after the completion of their studies; extended stays have been an unintended consequence. On the contrary, in the recent expansion of international student mobility, many nation-states came to utilize education migration as a deliberate strategy to recruit talented skilled workers from abroad. This project examines the varied impact of these two modes of convergence through the investigation of the post-graduation decision-making process of international students in two different locales. How does global cultural capital interact with local employment practices, and how do international job applicants navigate the intersection? How do they assess career opportunities and their own employability in their host country, country of origin and elsewhere, and what factors do they consider? How do they mobilize their social, cultural and academic capital in the job search process, and how do they present their cultural and professional skills to potential employers in respective markets? How do patterns of cultural negotiations in the job search process vary between international students in a "core" nation and those in a "peripheral" nation? This study attempts to answer these questions through a comparative ethnography of post-graduate employment search activities among international students in the United States and in Japan. This research project spans a 24-month period, of which the 12-month fellowship period will be spent for fieldwork in Japan. The data collection consists of 1) A case study at Waseda University, 2) Ad-hoc observations and interviews at other universities in Japan, and 3) Interviews with international students in the New York Metropolitan area.