Aboriginal young people and youth subcultures


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Content type
Family Matters article

August 1994


The author draws out some of the contradictions and limitations in uncritically applying Anglo-centric theoretical frameworks to the study of the cultural experiences of Aboriginal young people. It is the authors' view that much of the inquiry that occurs in the broad arena of youth subcultures ignores the involvement of Aboriginal young people in a range of spheres, domains and activities. They contend that, in the main, academic work in Australia largely mirrors popular ideas about Aboriginal young people. Either Aboriginal young people are invisible in research and discussions concerned with youth subcultures or, where they are considered, there is generally an over-reliance on problematic assumptions about what Aboriginal young people do and do not involve themselves in. This paper draws on the preliminary findings of an ethnographic study investigating how Nyungar young people living in a southern metropolitan region of Perth articulate their everyday experiences of the nexus between substance use and the police. Their accounts challenge many of the underlying assumptions which inform past and current work on youth subcultures. Many of their comments challenge popularly held views about Aboriginal young people's attitudes, behaviour, style, and 'leisure' and spare time pursuits.

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