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The Dutch in Tasmania: An exploration of ethnicity and immigrant adaptation


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Julian, RD 1989 , 'The Dutch in Tasmania: An exploration of ethnicity and immigrant adaptation', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Despite the fact that Tasmania's largest non-English speaking
ethnic category is that of Dutch immigrants and their descendants, it has
been the subject of very little empirical research. This study remedies
this omission by providing an ethnographic account of the adaptation of
Dutch immigrants and their descendants in southern Tasmania. The
concept of 'ethnicity' is also critically examined and its role in the process
of immigrant adaptation is analyzed.
The emphasis throughout is upon the structural context within
which immigrant adaptation takes place by focussing on the relationship
between social networks, ethnic organizational development and the
process of self-identification. Migrant adaptation is a process in which an
immigrant selects strategies. Such strategies are constrained both by the
skill level of immigrants and their access to resources and opportunities
in the receiving society. The mobilization of ethnicity is thus seen as a
situationally specific adaptive strategy which the immigrant chooses
from a repertoire of available identity options.
Two alternative patterns of adaptation are identified. The first is
characterized by the development of an 'ethnic' community with a wide
range of organizational development and relatively closed social
networks leading to the maintenance of ethnic traits. The second pattern
involves the dispersion of migrant individuals within the receiving
society, resulting in limited ethnic networks and hence a decline in the
salience of ethnicity both in social relationships and as an identity
construct. The two types of adaptation are the result of an individual's social
location in both the society of origin and the receiving society. Factors
considered include the level of modernity characterizing these societies,
an individual's social location in the society of origin prior to emigration
and upon arrival in the receiving society, mode of migration, skill level,
availability of resources and identity options and the structure of
opportunities in the receiving society. Using this approach the recent
'ethnic revival' in modern societies can be distinguished as a different
phenomenon from the mobilization of ethnidty among first-generation
Variations in the nature of ethnic mobilization are explained
through an examination, grounded in actual social experiences, of the
structural conditions which lead to the choice of strategies. The study
thus demonstrates the limited explanatory power of ethnicity per se in
the process of immigrant adaptation. The concept of 'ethnicity' is a
descriptive term which subsumes a variety of factors and processes. In
order to develop adequate explanations of ethnic phenomena in modern
society it is therefore necessary to develop concepts based on distinct and
measurable processes.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Julian, RD
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