What Is Australian Identity

Topics: Australia, Nation, Multiculturalism Pages: 7 (2377 words) Published: November 18, 2013
 What is the Australian Identity?


For years, many sociologists defined national identity simply as shared feelings of understanding, national sense of self and cultural heritage. In 2012, Holmes, D., Hughes, K. & Julian, R. (2012) made a compelling statement that national identity, while reinforcing a shared sense of character and uniqueness, creates a rather singular identity that not all people within the country will necessarily share. In Australia, national identity has become a social issue that has been argued and debated by Australians. This issue has become a problematic subject for various reasons. One reason is that an influx of migrants has caused citizens to question the appropriateness of asserting a national character that migrants are not in conformity with. A second reason is that the internet has facilitated the flow of ideas so that likeminded subcultures based on music, religions, TV shows, cooking, and politics now operate in various countries around the world. These subcultures provide a more meaningful sense of belonging than that provided by vague concepts of a national character.(www.convictcreation.com) This paper will discuss the key aspect of Australian national identity and how is this national identity being re-shaped by immigration. This paper will also identify if the Australian identity is increasingly “hybrid” one.

Many questions have arisen addressing the Australian national identity. There has been claimed that ethnicity and multiculturalism are two of the factors that influence our sense of national identity. Van Krieken et al (2006, p.277) explained that the Australian national identity could be seen “as having been historically formed around a distinctive Anglo-Celtic ethnic core and at the same time it can be understood as an “invented tradition” or “imagined community” in which variety of disparate phenomena have been thrown together to create a national mythology, a sense of common identity and a sense of the Australian nation.” Kukathas, C. (1997, p. 178) cited that “the pursuit of national identity requires an emphasis on the features of an Australian “narrative” which identify a heritage, as well as institutions, held in common. Yet the dilemmas that the Australian narrative faces are the rights of aborigines and a variety of immigrant cultural traditions, making the idea of a single national identity implausible- unless the notion of identity is emptied of any substance”. What is Australian and un-Australian? And what is to be an Australian? These are some of the questions that often answered with a self-definition of what many would regard as influenced by our citizenship, ethnicity and our sense of national identity. According to Wood, P.K. (1999, p.19-20) “Citizenship carries legal or juridical significance while identity has social and cultural weight. Identity allows for the effective formation of groups which sometimes leads to claims for legal entitlements.” For example, the term Greek Australian is somehow inconsistent with true Australian national identification and citizenship, and moreover we argue that a single national identification sits uneasily with the legal acceptance of dual or multiple citizenship in current Australian legislation. However, it is important to note that the notions of citizenship and associated assumptions about ethnicity and multiculturalism shape our ideas and actions in relation to our national identity. Ethnicity in other hand is viewed as an essential, fixed and static characteristic of ethnic minorities. Scott, P. (1991, p.39) cited that ethnic identities are inherited therefore seem to remain immutable while national identity is a fluid process in constant negotiation with its constituent groups. Ethnic diversity must be understood as a social reality not as an option, and the acceptance of ethnic cultural individuality. Singular identities however cannot be formed at the expense of shared...

References: Holmes, D., Hughes, K. & Julian, R. (2012) Australian Sociology: A Changing Society, (3rd ed.), Pearson Education, Frenchs Forest
Van Krieken, R., Habibis, D., Smith, P., Hutchins, B., Haralambos, M
Kukathas, C. (1997) Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.6, No.3, p.4. Fall and Winter
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Rashid, T. (2007)Configuration of National Identity in Australia: Migration Ethnicity and Religious Minorities. Vol.6, No.3 & 4, p.2.
Clark, C. & Dearling, A. (2000) Ethnicity, Nomadism and Traveller Identity: In Pursuit of Common Ground. In Criminal Justice Matters. No.38. Winter/ Spring
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Harris, P. & Williams, V. (2003) Social Inclusion, National Identity and Moral Imagination. The Drawing Board: An Australian Review of Public Affairs. Vol.3, No.3, pp. 205-222, School of Economics and Political Science, University of Sydney
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Flahive, E. (2007) National Identity Crisis: The Politics of Constructing National Identity and Mandatory Detention of Asylum-Seekers in Australia and Japan. Retrieved on 2 May 2013 from http://www.sydney.edu.au
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http://www.australia.gov.au (accessed 2 May 2013)
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