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Family Matters No. 38 - August 1994

Youth and ethnicity

The second generation
Ellie Vasta

Abstract

In analysing the position of young migrant people in Australian society, we come across familiar terms which defy fixed categorisation - terms such as 'ethnic', 'non-English-speaking background' and 'second generation' youth. This article looks at problems of definition, with particular focus on the way the identities of young people from non-English-speaking backgrounds were constructed during the period of assimilation and later under multiculturalism. The article includes an analysis of models used to explain the construction of youth ethnic identities, in particular the notion of cultural conflict and its role in the construction. The author focuses mainly on the Italian experience.

In analysing the position of young migrant people in Australian society, we come across familiar terms which defy fixed categorisation - terms such as 'ethnic', 'non-English-speaking background' and 'second generation' youth. This article looks at problems of definition, with particular focus on the way the identities of young people from non-English-speaking backgrounds were constructed during the period of assimilation and later under multiculturalism. The article includes an analysis of models used to explain the construction of youth ethnic identities, in particular the notion of cultural conflict and its role in the construction. The author focuses mainly on the Italian experience.

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