Through qualitative personal network analysis from an intersectional perspective, this article contributes to the debate on the salience of ethnicity as a defining, yet essentialized, category in transnational migration research. The article includes a theoretical and methodological discussion of qualitative personal network analysis as a means to alleviate the risks of overemphasizing ethnicity over other categories, which provides the background to the empirical analysis. Drawing on 20 personal networks and qualitative interviews with Chinese international students who were studying in the United States, the findings of this study indicate that ethnicity, as a precursor to culture, along with gender and class, is important in friendship formations but not necessarily for job‐relevant issues. Moreover, through an intersectional personal network analysis, transnational family ties were problematized based not on their ethnicity but on gendered expectations and social norms.
- international student mobility
- personal network analysis
- qualitative research
- transnational ties