Existing literature reports that children of Korean immigrants in the United States have strong achievement-oriented values, which facilitates upward mobility and assimilation. However, researchers generally do not examine how their marginalized status as children of non-white immigrants shapes their perceptions of career motivations and success. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with 69 adult children of Korean immigrants in the United States, this study explores the situated meanings that they attribute to their mobility experiences. Findings reveal that participants verbally endorse the significance of group-specific cultural values, but they relate their perceptions of mobility to their disadvantaged status. They see their parents’ struggles as immigrants as a motivation to seek upward mobility. Yet their status as children of non-white immigrants leads them to have an undervalued understanding of career motivations and individual skills. Findings suggest that race and immigration have an impact on the understanding of social mobility among children of non-white immigrants.
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