Professor Jan Fook
Professor of Social Work, Deakin University, Victoria
Emerging Ethnicities as a Theoretical Framework for Social
What is the most relevant way to understand ethnicity and ethnic
identity in the contemporary world? Drawing from personal experience
as a later generation migrant in Australia trying to find a meaningful
ethnic identity, the paper illustrates how both primordial and
instrumental concepts of ethnicity are inadequate. It argues
that the concept of emergent ethnicity best characterises the
dynamic and changeable nature of ethnicity in a world of mixed
types of migration, globalised economies and cultures, and challenged
hierarchies and boundaries. This type of critical paradigm of
ethnicity takes into account the transformative nature of ethnicity,
one which incorporates differences and fragmentation, context,
reflexitivity and changing constructions, as well as political
ramifications. The chapter ends by developing the implications
of this critical paradigm. Aboriginal ethnicity is briefly analysed
as an example, pointing up policy and political implications.
Several broad directions for social work practice are also developed,
including the politics of identity creation, reflexivity, and
the connections between personal experience and structural arrangements.
Jan Fook (B.S.W. (N.S.W.), M.S.W. (Syd.) is currently Professor
of Social Work at Deakin University, on secondment from La Trobe
University. She was born in Sydney, and is of third generation
Australian-born Chinese descent. Her teaching and research span
the areas of critical practice, critical reflection, practice
research, cross-cultural practice and professional expertise.
She has authored and edited 6 books, and written over 30 book
chapters and articles in these areas.
30 min paper