National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Dr Diane Barnes
Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work, University of NSW

Australian of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Parentage: Identity Development and Social Relationships

Mixed unions are rapidly increasing in Australia, but what unique challenges confront the offspring of such unions? Based on a piece of exploratory qualitative research, this paper traces the development of ethnic identity in thirteen young adults of mixed cultural/ethnic/racial parentage, and also explores ethnic dimensions of their social relationships. The influence of both parental attitudes and community attitudes are highlighted in the stories of these young people, in their quest for an identity that encompasses the diverse components of their heritage. Their personal developmental experiences in turn impact upon their perceptions of others and their interactions in social contexts, with heightened sensitivity to issues of difference. Possible implications of the research findings for fostering social cohesion in a multicultural society are considered in this paper.

Dr Barnes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Work at UNSW, and participates in the Centre for Refugee Research. She has conducted several research projects on aspects of refugee settlement, and is also interested in issues of identity and affinity in Australian society.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops