Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Christopher Sonn

Abstract

The historical, political and social nature of Australian society provides a backdrop for the ways in which exclusion and inclusion are perpetuated. It is from within this context adolescent identity development and relationship formation occurs. While there is a wealth of literature focussing on inter-group relationships and adolescent development, very little research has focussed on the implications of the wider context on everyday social knowledge, or social representations, held by adolescents in a multicultural peer group. Using social representation theory, this study investigated the social representations adolescents held in relation to ethnic, cultural and national identity. It also investigated the source of these representations, and the implications for friendships and wider group relationships. A peer group of 12 male participants, aged 14-15 years (M = 15.25 yrs) was recruited from a state suburban high school and interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Three social representations emerged. These included: Cultural Dominance; Maintaining the Status Quo and Cultural Tolerance and Acceptance. These were considered in relation to other themes, including friendships and barriers to inter-group relationships. Implications for identity development, friendship and wider relationships are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

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