Excerpts of a HD PIP generously given to us by study_buddy.
A P.I.P. exploring the elucidation of a youth's ethnic identity in Australia's multicultural society.
8th grade. The very first recess of the year, old friendships broke down, 'new' ethnic ties were epiphanic in their making. 'Wogs', 'Arabs', 'Asians' and 'Aussies' - separatism had well and truly occurred. Suddenly William the 'Wog', your best friend, despised you, and Latin Louis, who picked on you, became one of the only people you could trust.
There also existed a small subgroup, the 'Drifters' we called them, those who didn't assert themselves to their ethnic origin. Four years have passed, yet there remains a vivid question in my head, what had caused such conflict of behavior and identity back then, and, were such issues concerning ethnic identity prevalent in the wider society?
In today's Australian society, a rich tapestry of cultures, a hybrid poly-ethnic and multicultural society (Hodge: 119), there broods a storm cloud over the heads of its youth. The greatest of all enigmas for these leaders of tomorrow? Where do they fit in to this immense and diversified plain, where ethnic cultural identity is no longer predominantly determined by country of birth, or parental ancestry, rather, by self assertion and a difficult path to discovery. This P.I.P aims to explore the difficulties with determining ones identity, in relation to cultural ethnicity, for the youth living in Australia's multifaceted society through capturing snapshots of my micro world levels of ethnic assertion and identifying the reasons and relevant concepts which influence and shape a youth's personal and social ethnic perception In Australia's social environment.
The methodologies employed for this social research include; surveys to an extensive population (used to best illustrate statistical and demographic trends in relation to self perception), interviews of a mixture of interviewees ( i.e. authoritative/academic individuals and a range of people with various perceived cultural identities ) to achieve an affect of combining personal experiences and authoritative public knowledge, local community studies, content analysis on media forms (as media plays a pivotal socializing role in youth culture), participant observation alongside my friends in group settings to truly explore the issue of ethnicity in my micro world, qualitative Delphi process( which included senior lecturers and scholars globally, to compare and contrast the issue in Western Sydney to a national and global setting). Altogether, the triangulation of these methodologies serve to give my research a balance, between levels of public knowledge, cross-cultural personal experience and findings relevant to local, national and global trends.
NATIONAL MELTING POT? OR SOCIAL FRUIT SALAD?
The focus of this chapter is to analyze and highlight the schism, or cross-cultural component of my P.I.P., evident in the youth of Australian society. Such, will be done by exploring the social identities which; a) Conform and/or assimilate into the ‘mainstream’ and dominant “Australian Culture”, b) Resist and deviate from the ‘mainstream culture’ and hence opt to retain their ancestral cultural ethnicity. In order to do so, both cultures will be defined and, statistical findings put forward to establish my research population’s ( 15-19 year olds of Fairfield/Liverpool Area) positions in relation to their ethnic identity.
The issue of cultural ethnic assertion in youths, is evident throughout Australian society, and, is an intricate concept in the developmental and socially participatory aspects of Non-Australian ancestral youth’s (NAAY ). J J Smolicz asserts “ a key aspect that differentiates the youth of 1st,2nd 3rd etc generation immigrants is ethnic disposition… there exists the youth that flaunts his/her ethnic origin and, the youth which suppresses their enculturated ethnicity and basks in that of the host culture”(Smolicz: 1.4).
The Australian social environment is complex, made so by its persons. Its sheer complexity can be traced back through Australia’s history. With the Post WW2 immigration influx, Australian society, along with its identity changed. Immigrants brought to Australia “cross cultural fertilization, intercultural consciousness, integration and cultural development” (Theophanous:63). Through time, change occurred, and whilst resistance to multiculturalism was met, by institutional policies (Assimilation), by the mid 1980’s immigration influx, Australian society, and “national identity” had become Multicultural.
The immigrant population, increasing in numbers with time, transformed Australian society into what we see today. As ethnic group’s became more established in Australia, their culture disseminated to the long term Australians, by means of intercultural marriage, power representation, and sheer strength in numbers, and, by the 90’s, the Australian identity in general became one of ‘multi-culturalism’.
If multiculturalism is the all-encompassing ‘ethnic Australian’ identity, what is the culture pertaining to such an identity, What does it mean to be “Australian”?
20 interviews (25-4-03 to 16-6-03) were conducted, of the research population (even amounts of Ancestral Australians: NAA- of all ages), much to the liking of my personal view, the main characteristic pertaining to all responses was that an ethnic Australian identity is “ a person of any ethnic ancestral descent/descents who tolerates and consciously/un-consciously takes part in the culture of other Australians, and, lives out their own culture simultaneously affected by that of others. The ‘Aussie’ ethnic identity is accepting the existence of any other ancestral ethnic ties but, immersing yourself into the bigger picture, where your culture adds to that of the latter, to create a diversified, yet whole identity” (Interview 4-5-03). An exclusive interview (22-4-03) with Mr. Jason Yet-Sin Li, a delegate to the 1998 Australian Constitutional Convention, revealed that the Australian identity “comes not from who we are, but what we do”. Summing up, Efi Hatzimanolis (Delphi process 28-05-03) states, “the Australian identity is a circular process of relative acculturation between its members”. If what the Australian identity, living in Australia does, is to acculturate, what is on the other side, what is the other social group in relation to ethnic identity?
In Australian society, those who do not relatively conform to the multiculturalism can be deemed deviants, individualists or nationalists. Such is that of NAA immigrants, who reside in and amongst Australia and its people, yet, transcend geographic boundaries and perpetuate their ancestral ethnic culture. The Deviant culture can be defined as a united belief system, with the principle of rejecting the cosmopolitan culture of the host nation (1.Smolicz:13). Deviants are individualists, they remain insular towards their ancestral ethnic culture despite environmental situations, and are relative to particular individual country’s. However, these individualists unite under the one group of deviants, as there exists the common factor of rejecting an Australian ethnic identity pertaining to all the deviant ancestral ethnic groups.
Australia being an individualist nation, ensures a suited environment for deviants, for e.g. the Multiculturalism policy which allows all persons to continue and practice their culture freely, so long as it is within the constraints of the law.
Henceforth, the choice to remain ‘true’ to a persons country of origin and its culture, despite living in Australian society is not a crime, it is just as acceptable as a ‘Chinese man eating a meat pie’.
Having established the nature of both cultures, relating to a persons ethnic identity in Australia, in regards to the NAAY population of the Fairfield/Liverpool area , How do the youth assert themselves? Is my micro world an accumulation of individual deviants, or, multicultural conformists?
On the 22nd of March 2003, 436 questionnaires were distributed to NAAY (male and female) in secondary schools and cultural (youth) meeting places (Greater Union Cinemas, HMV music stores). The reply period was 3 months, and, 397 successful replies were obtained. I believe this was in essence due to the selection of distribution points, which was assisted by me personally being a youth and relatively knowing youth cultural ‘hot spots’. The pragmatic dismissal of cultural literacy came into play, when I simply used stereotypes (centered on image) to select which youths I thought were NAA, and hence to which youths I distributed the questionnaire.
One of the questions asked, which this whole chapter is centered on, had a purpose to reveal whether or not the youth considered him/herself to be of an “Australian ethnic identity”, or, of a “ancestral homeland ethnic identity”. It became evident after my first pilot study ( 02-03-03), that in our Australian society, the issue cannot be polarized, so, I employed the use of a modality scale, from 1 (being highly committed to ancestral ethnic identity and culture) to 5( being committed to an “Australian ethnic identity and culture”. I also enlisted the use of printing a definition of ‘ethnic identity’ on the questionnaire (“Ethnic identity is a shared sense of being and belonging to a set of social and cultural attributes”[Flemming, Louise: 41]) to clarify the issue and enforce a valid response.
The question was:
As a Non-Australian ancestral youth living in Australian society, in what position to do consider yourself in the scale from 1-5, in relation to your social identity-i.e. by what ethnic identity you live your life (think about your consumption of food,music,activities in the wider society, your values and beliefs etc)
These were the results (research population:397) :
Evidently, the results show a relative division between the research population, where numbers are at their greatest at polarized ends of the scale. Henceforth, my hypothesized cross-cultural basis for identity among NAAY is prevalent. There does however, in support of my preliminary findings (pilot study 02-03-03), exist intermediate identities, nevertheless, the fact that ‘position 3’, the intermediate/’donkey vote’ position has the smallest numbers, indicates the NAAY are concerned and aware of the issue at hand, and that they simply do not overlook the matter of there existing a choice of ethnic self identity in Australian Society. These results further complement the ‘U-Curve’ theory of ethnic cultural existence in a multifaceted society (Pederson, Paul:9), i.e. the NAAY population researched may be seen as a microcosm for the larger society, as they illustrate clearly the existence of identities which conform to the host culture and those which retain their ancestral ethnic identity.
Conclusively, we have seen the definite existence of acculturated and deviant social ethnic identities amongst the NAAY of the Fairfield/Liverpool area. If we can accept this as a microcosm for the Australian society, my results indicate that we truly are multifaceted and diverse- we are a mixture of both individuals which form unique identifiable components of a fruit salad and individuals which are a product of the social ‘soup’ construct. The substantiated and differentiating nature of the statistical methodology served to catalyze the issue to be discussed: What has led to such an assertion of ethnic identities for the NAAY? Taking on from Maslow’s and Erikson’s theories, that the teenage years are the times identities are in large formed, what social concepts have shaped the youths identities between these crucial times?
From researching the topic of how a NAAY's ethnic identity is synthesized in Australia's multifaceted society I felt empowered in a sense, I gained many new perspectives and a deeper sense of social and cultural literacy.
In social settings, I am now more equipped to think constructively and analytically, rather than to impose harsh judgments on others in relation to their choice of ethnicity. When I see a NAAY who is committed to an Australian ethnic identity, I know not to be detrimental in my prejudices. I appreciate that the youth has likely been faced with negative challenges from his ancestral culture, and hence has been brave enough to make the change into an Australian identity, despite the potential obstructive behavior of other members of society.
Similarly those youths who boast an ancestral ethnic identity now receive my praise, as I am aware of the many pressures in Australian society that are in place to assimilate the NAAY population. I am open to the strengths of their personality, rather than closing myself off to perceive them as simple, transcultural, cry-babies.
I firmly believe the research for this PIP has changed me. I have found a new confidence in myself to step outside of my comfort zone, and into the public. I interact with a variety of persons better now, I believe as a result of my gained ability to empathize with others.
My methodologies reflect my new personality, they were ethical balanced and sociable. I did not fear confronting strangers about my topic, as I firmly believed in the importance of the issue of ethnic identities. The methodologies I employed were each specific to the relevant concepts I wished to investigate, while at the same time being open enough to allow the views and opinions of my cross-culture to be seen. Each methodology carried out served its purpose well in identifying the issue of ethnicity in our society. The limitations were minor and I managed incorporate the results into an effective PIP.
From my research I can confidently suggest the following in relation to a NAAY's ethnic assertion in Australian society; many identities are created as a result of conformity, the need to belong to the ingroup and fear of the outgroup influences our commitment to an ethnic identity. Also, there is institutionalized discrimination towards an ancestral ethnic identity as the media and the government work towards creating an Australian ethnic identity for all. The levels of power and status certain cultural ancestries have can cause NAAY's to commit themselves to an ancestral ethnic identity, where there exists a great presence of power in the wider society. Also, a lack of status and power pertaining to an ancestral culture can cause a NAAY of the cultural group to commit to an Australian ethnic identity. NAAY's with collectivist origins are a main demographic group which retain their ancestral ethnic identity in Australian society, in large due to the influential nature of their parents and the process of enculturation. The pressures of certain ancestral cultures placed on NAAY's can either be inauspicious or favorable towards the youths commitment to an ancestral ethnic identity. Finally, it was seen that the effects of living in ethnic ghettos had no distinctive affects on a NAAY's ethnic assertion, our ethnic identity formations are a product of many influential factors.