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“SOME ASIAN MEN ARE ATTRACTIVE TO ME, BUT FOR A HUSBAND …”: Korean Adoptees and the Salience of Race in Romance

  • Jiannbin Lee Shiao (a1) and Mia H. Tuan (a2)


Two indicators of race relations in the United States are interracial marriage and transracial adoption. We examine the salience of race in the romantic involvements of Korean adoptees, and we argue that mainstream racial discourses influence romantic preferences across variations in personal experience, local demographics, and social distance. Applying a dating-history approach to a probability sample of semistructured interviews with fifty-eight adult Korean adoptees, we demonstrate how racial discourses influence romantic preferences by shaping adoptees' interpretations of their romantic involvements across a range of structural conditions, and we also identify specific conditions that limit their salience. In brief, we introduce a conception of romantic preference that bridges the existing constructs in the qualitative and the quantitative literatures on interracial marriage.


Corresponding author

Professor Jiannbin Lee Shiao, Department of Sociology, Dartmouth College, 6104 Silsby Hall, Hanover, NH 03755. E-mail:


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