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Australian National Identity: Young Peoples' Conceptions of What It Means to be Australian

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To investigate young people's conceptions of Australian national identity, 242 school students were invited to write a small essay about what they think it means to be Australian. Multiple constructions of national identity were evident, including both traditional understandings relating to lifestyle and personality characteristics as well as more expanded views. Expanded views were characterised by plurality, and 'voices of care and justice'. Despite recent terrorist world events (including September 11, but excluding the Bali bombing), a dominant view concerned national well-being and the notion that to be Australian meant that one lived in a safe and prosperous environment. In accordance with social identity theory, students' understandings of conditions and sentiments existing in other countries were often used as points of reference, leading at times to somewhat rose-coloured views. There was no reference to an identity that encompassed intellectual, economic, scientific or cultural pursuits or achievements.

Keywords: Australia; Conceptions; National Identity; Social Identity Theory; Young People

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2007

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