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‘Cold pies, warm beer, and misspent youth’: Acculturation strategies mediate ethnic self-identification and marginalization in first and second-generation Australian migrant youth from South-East Asia.

Tan, Anita (2016) ‘Cold pies, warm beer, and misspent youth’: Acculturation strategies mediate ethnic self-identification and marginalization in first and second-generation Australian migrant youth from South-East Asia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The literature on migrants and social adjustment in Australia has been limited, with theories on acculturation surpassing empirical knowledge. Additionally, most research in this arena has centered on biosocial correlates of adult migrant activity; few Australian based studies have investigated empirically the impact of acculturation strategies on familial and structural marginalization among migrant youth. Using the underpinning constructs of biculturalism across multiple domains, this thesis examines how ethnic self-identification and self-esteem are mediated by the adoption of bicultural (culturally integrated) or culturally separated strategies of adjustment, and how this in turn may relate to negative adjustment outcomes such as alienating migrant youth from their families (familial marginalization) and from salient social/governance structures (structural marginalization) in their lives. This proposed relationship is articulated in a hypothesized 6-factor model relating the constructs of: Self-Esteem, Ethnic Identity, Cultural Integration, Cultural Separation, Familial Marginalization, and Structural Marginalization. The robustness of the relationship between these constructs is then further tested using a scale of self-reported antisocial behaviour.

The proposed mediation model is tested across 330 first and second-generation youth migrants from South-East Asia using structural equation modeling (SEM) and multiple-group analyses. The measurement model was evaluated using a series of confirmatory factor analyses to assess the factor structure of each of the 6 latent constructs examined for both first- and second-generation migrant youth samples: Congeneric (1-factor) models were tested separately for each construct, and configural and measurement equivalence across generations was assessed. The full structural model was then estimated and tested for factorial equivalence and multi-group invariance across generation 1 and 2 cohorts using both aggregate and individual item scores. Results from this arm of the study indicate that the hypothesized multi-group model for familial and structural marginalization is well fitting across generation 1 and 2 migrants, and that significant differences exist in the relationship between independent, mediating and outcome variables when comparing generation 1 and 2 cohorts. Results from the second arm of the study exploring the prediction of antisocial behaviour from the proposed model of cultural and social adjustment indicate that self-esteem, familial marginalization, and structural marginalization added significantly to the prediction of antisocial behaviour for the generation 1 cohort, while only structural marginalization significantly predicted antisocial behaviour for the generation 2 cohort. In terms of descriptive data, this study also reports frequency and correlational statistics obtained from preliminary means-testing procedures.

This study contributes to work in the field of migrant adjustment by adopting a multidimensional approach to defining and examining the constructs of ethnic identity and acculturation, and by exploring how these constructs interact to predict experiences of marginalization and antisocial behaviour in South-East Asian youth. More globally, this has implications for how cultural identity and socialization practices may be shaped in a range of settings to which young migrants may become exposed (e.g. schools, refugee detention centers, offender rehabilitation programs) to ameliorate the risk of marginalization and criminalization.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Supervisor(s): Walker, Iain and Harbaugh, Allen Gregg
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