Working Paper

Theoretical Fashions in Australian Immigration Research

Published 1 January 2005 / By Ellie Vasta

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Introduction

The main aim of this paper is to provide, for the past 55 odd years, an overview of the trends in theoretical approaches and the areas researched within the broad area of Australian immigration and ethnic relations. This review reveals a high degree of national specificity with regard to theoretical and methodological approaches as well as underlying assumptions on the relationship between migration, the state and society. It appears that Australian social scientists are heavily influenced by national traditions and historical experiences–such as colonialism, previous migration experience and assumptions on race, ethnicity and culture. Social scientists are also influenced by disciplinary fashions of the times in which they research and write, though the disciplinary fashions bring an international logic to the analyses. Moreover, policy makers in Australia have tended to structure research-funding mechanisms to select and privilege the types of research seen as politically or administratively desirable.KeywordsImmigration research; theories of immigration; theories of immigrant inclusion; Australian immigration and settlement policies; multiculturalism; ethnicity; gender relations; class and stratification; racism; immigrant political participation.

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