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Guestworkers or settlers? Turkish migrants in Melbourne

posted on 08.02.2017, 04:18 authored by Elley, Joy
This study describes migration and the settlement process as it was experienced by Turkish migrants living in Melbourne, Australia. The key informants for this study were drawn from 30 family units. The major assumption is that the settlement experience reflects the pre-migration background. This leads, inexorably, to a central focus on the meaning of ethnic identity (ethnicity) in the migration situation. This shared identity is a key way in which the pre-migration background is articulated in the host society. This focus on the meaning of ethnicity also grows out of criticism of current schools of migration theory, which nave, as common elements, a tendency to treat migrants as reactors, units of labourpower and as a single gender category. Ethnic identity is socially expressed through membership of an ethnic group. A structural theory of ethnic group development is used as the major analytical tool. This theory grew out of the work of Barth (1969) and was expanded in the work of Jeffery-(1976). This perspective focusses on the nature of social relationsips that develop within the ethnic group and across the boundary of the group. These social relationships are also seen as describing the group boundary. In the migration situation ethnicity does more than articulate the pre-migration experience. Perceptions of shared identity enables individuals to maintain a coherent and continuing identity through provision of a supportive and familiar social system. The consequent security is illustrated as the ethnic identity is re-shaped to incorporate elements of the host culture. Other themes are also explored in this work. I argue that recent migrant groups are not necessarily homogeneous or undifferentiated. Neither are they wholly constituted of the unemployed and underemployed workers in the country of origin. Migrants are differentiated in a number of ways; in their pre-migration experiences, their time of arrival in Australia, their point of entry to the host society and also in terms of gender. These differences have a critical effect on the experience and understanding of the migration process. I am also critical of the presumption on the part of the government of the coincidence of its policy with the intentions of individual immigrants. Successive Australian governments have stressed a priori that immigrants are permanent settlers. It is generally assumed even by the social scientists in Australia that all immigrants share this view. The informants for this study did not, at the time of their arrival in Australia, consider that they were permanent settlers. Initially, they intended to stay in Australia for only a few years. Over time these intentions altered and informants began to see their stay in Australia as indefinite, if not permanent. The factors that contributed to this changing perspective are the subject matter of this thesis. Part I describes the parameters of the study. Part II outlines changinggovernment policies that resulted in Turkish migration to Australia. Part III describes the informants of the study. Part IV analyses the single-stranded relationships that develop across the boundaries of the ethnic group, while Part V analyses the development of multiplex social relationships within the ethnic group. Part VI contains the assessment made by informants of the migration experience.


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Department, School or Centre

Anthropology and Sociology


Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Arts