The identity formation of second-generation Australians from dislocated immigrant family backgrounds

Anderson, N 2004, The identity formation of second-generation Australians from dislocated immigrant family backgrounds, Masters by Research, International and Community Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The identity formation of second-generation Australians from dislocated immigrant family backgrounds
Author(s) Anderson, N
Year 2004
Abstract In light of the increasing global need for acculturation to changing social environments, it is a pertinent time to be considering the influence of different cultures on individual identity formation. It is the process of re-examining and redefining the factors which impact upon individual identities and their realities, which can assist in understanding the nature of emerging and evolving contemporary 'Australian' identities. 'Family background, personal experiences and interactions within society all contribute to the development of these multiple realities for individuals.

When families migrate to a new country, decisions are made regarding which cultural beliefs and practices from the country of origin are retained, and which of the country of settlement, if any, will be adopted. For the second generation, the issues are complex due to the need to structure a concept of personal identity based on traditional cultural family beliefs and history, in the context of the contemporary Australian social environment and value-systems. By making choices shaped by
both migrant family and Anglo-Australian influences, these individual embark upon the process of developing a culture in 'transition'- the formulation of new 'Australian' cultural identities.

This research project aimed to study the way in which six individuals from dislocated Italian, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Chinese and Vietnamese family backgrounds have interpreted their backgrounds and experiences, and the extent to which these have impacted upon the formation of their identities over time. The case studies investigate the way in which these factors may have exacerbated a sense of cultural dislocation for each individual and explore these aspects of identity and family in a broader historical framework, including consideration of potential implications for the future.

The participants whose stories were explored by these case-studies have experienced diverse individual journeys towards both understanding and distancing themselves from their own dislocation to develop a tangible sense of self-identity not
singularly based on family or place. Their stories were characterised by the following factors, which directly or indirectly impacted upon their relationships, lifestyle, environment and their identity formation:

• Cultural difference
• Relocation and settlement issues
• Risk and insecurity
• Depression
• Gender Issues
• Values
• Language

Participants generally found that in terms of formulating and reinforcing a sense of home and identity, factors involving family, home and contemporary global culture are more meaningful than broader concepts of national citizenship or cultural heritage. The significance of cultural heritage was consistently contributed to the link between migrant culture and family. These 'external' factors often conflicted with the individual sense of self that each participant struggled to maintain while juggling other demands. Ultimately, each individual has been successful in achieving many positive outcomes in terms of their identity development, however each spoke of the personal cost of this and the unresolved challenges for the future.

The second-generation individuals who participated in this study have developed an inherent sense of cultural diversity, involving a fusion of both local and global, and past and present cultures in their process of identity formation. There was acknowledgment that an understanding of the past has a positive impact on the formulation of present identities, however most of the participants have felt quite isolated by the uniqueness of their stories that they felt others have not been able to
identify with or understand. This may be why many second-generation individuals have not completely identified with broader generic definitions of what it is to be 'Australian' and have searched for other ways to express their sense of individual identity. This thesis proposes that these stories are an essential reflection of the culturally diverse Australian identities of today.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre International and Community Studies
Keyword(s) Australian identity
Second generation migrants
Dislocated family backgrounds
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Created: Mon, 15 Oct 2018, 15:09:39 EST by Keely Chapman
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