Acculturation of South Asian adolescents in Australia


Department of Education, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2AX, UK (e-mail:


Background. This investigation is part of a wider research project on the acculturation and identity-related issues of South Asian young people in Britain, Canada and the US. There has been no published research on the acculturation of this ethnic group in Australia. The project is embedded within Berry's (1994) theoretical framework of acculturation. Aims. There are two major aims of the research. Firstly, to discover any pattern of acculturation of South Asian young people and to compare it with that of their counterparts in Britain and Canada. Secondly, to validate the existing Acculturation Scale (Ghuman, 1975, 1997, 1999a) with a group of South Asian young people living in a different socio-political context. Samples. The sample was drawn from three high schools - two being in Newcastle City, and one in a rural setting of New South Wales, Australia. A representative sample of 75 boys and girls (aged 14 to 16) from two social class backgrounds took part in the research. Methods. The young people were requested to fill in a background questionnaire on their religion, languages spoken at home, best friend, frequency of visit to a temple, etc. They also completed the Aberystwyth Likert-type Acculturation Scale. Results. Summated scores on the scale of two social class groups confirmed the previous finding that a non-manual group shows a higher degree of acculturation compared with a manual group. But, contrary to expectations, girls show lower acculturation than boys. The Spearman-Brown coefficient of reliability is 0.82 - which is in line with the findings in England and Canada. Conclusions. The whole sample shows a lower degree of acculturation compared with their counterparts in Canada and England. This is fully contextualised: viz, at the time of research (March 1998) the socio-political of Australia was anti-Asian, due mainly to the impending general election in which immigration from Asia was a significant issue. The mean score of the sample reflects their bilingualism and biculturalism.