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The adaptation of Soviet Jews in Victoria : a study of adolescent immigrants and their parents

posted on 08.02.2017, 04:16 by Steinkalk, Elka
This study explored the adaptation patterns of Soviet Jewish immigrants in Victoria, and the psychosocial correlates of this process. Particular attention was paid to comparisons of adult and adolescent subjects to Australia. The group chosen for the investigation was adolescents (age 12 - 20 years) and their parents who arrived in Australia between 1975 and 1978. The sample consisted of 101 adolescents and their 154 parents. Ninety-four Jewish adolescents born in Australia served as a comparison group. Four instruments were administered: (1) an interview schedule; (2) a battery of personality measures; (3) a semantic differential; (4) a value survey. The measures were administered in either English or Russian, depending on the participants' preferences. The analysis of the adaptation process was based on a multi¬ dimensional model of adaptation consisting of four aspects: (1) satisfaction with life in Australia; (2) identification (with Australia, with the USSR, and with Jewishness); (3) culture competence (particularly focused on language); (4) role acculturation. These four aspects, some of which were themselves multidimensional, were each examined in detail and the salient problems of this group were analysed and discussed. One of the major themes which emerged was the relationship between Australian schools and the adaptation of the adolescents. The general conclusion of this study was that this particular immigrant group generally adapted satisfactorily to life in Australia despite some difficulties and dissatisfactions. Their motivations to migrate, their particular socio-economic and educational level, and their occupational status all facilitated their ability to cope in the new environment. No conclusive evidence was found to relate personality characteristics to adaptation across the board, although there was, for some of the parents, evidence of a relationship between empathy, self-esteem, faith in people and adaptation. Empathy, emotional stability and flexibility seem to influence the adaptation of the immigrant adolescents. It was found that the values of the adolescent and immigrant parents differed from those of the comparison group. Identification with both the host society and Jewishness was found to be a major aspect of the adaptation process. The implications of this study in terms of other migrant groups and of specific Australian institutions, such as schools, were outlined.


Principal supervisor

Ronald Taft

Additional supervisor 1

Mary Nixon

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts