Black African immigrants in Australia : an exploratory analysis of the impacts of race and class on their lived experiences and adaptation processes
AffiliationArts - School of Political Science and Sociology
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsMergia, A. (2005). Black African immigrants in Australia : an exploratory analysis of the impacts of race and class on their lived experiences and adaptation processes. PhD thesis, Arts - School of Political Science and Sociology, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Deposited with permission of the author. © 2005 Dr. Ayalew Mergia
The primary aim of the present study is to explore the impact of race and class on the lived experiences of Black Africans in Melbourne during their adaptation process as Black immigrants in the historical, socio-cultural, economic, and political context of Australia. Critical ethnography is the methodology for this study. Focussing directly on the everyday lives of Black African immigrants over a twenty-three months period during February 2003 to end of January 2005, the study reveals how racial factors articulate and intersect with class factors in the making and/or shaping of the lived experiences of Black Africans in Melbourne, Australia. The study uses a definition of race that focuses on the demarcation of `races' as socio-historical constructions embedded in power relations that enable the majority to define the identities of racially defined minorities, definitions that serve to reinforce and perpetuate the minority group's inferior social status. The mean age of the participants was 36.9 years (SD = 8.6). The participants were diverse in their manner of immigration, motivations for immigration, and household characteristics. Interviews, participant-observation, and paper-and-pencil tools (survey questionnaires) were the three methods used for data collection. Riesman's narrative analysis (1993) is the framework for analysing the interview data. Quantitative data provided descriptive information on demographic and immigration profiles, socioeconomic and housing characteristics. The orientation of the quantitative component was to obtain a range of pictures of information or knowledge distributed within the population, and not to attempt any generalisation from the participants to the entire population of such immigrants. Findings from the traditional analysis indicated that participants faced immediate issues of survival after they arrived in Melbourne. Findings from the critical analysis revealed that immigration policy, class, imperialism and capitalism are not abstract or concealed issues but rather very real ones that have a direct bearing on these immigrants' experiences and their capacities to adapt. Findings from the critical analysis reveal that Black African immigrants received mistreatment from both white Australians (the dominant group) and non-English speaking Europeans (formerly oppressed groups). This study extends our understanding of immigrants' lived experiences; at the same time, it raises more questions for further investigation. In addition to the substantive contribution, this study also draws attention to several methodological issues pertinent to bilingual immigrant studies.
Keywordsimmigrants; Australiaa; cultural assimilation; emigration and immigration; cross cultural studies; Africans; africa; social conditions
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