Australia Ethno Ethnocentrism Cultural Pluralism Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Efforts in Australia to change this condition have on many levels been met with controversy and resistance, such as it demonstrated in the article by Clarke (2005). This would address the debate over the emergence of support for laws punishing 'racial vilification' at the public level. Prompting free speech debates and simulating an already robust debate over racial issues in Australia, this discussion highlights the inherent challenge of changing attitudes and impressions that can cause cultural exclusion. Clarke denotes that "despite the widespread existence of legislation that penalises racial vilification at State and Federal levels, there has been a rise in Australia over the past 10 years of divisive 'race' politics." (Clarke, 1) Even today, where it is tempting to view racialist ideologies as a vestige of the past being gradually stripped away, fresh resistance to a move toward cultural plurality where Aboriginals are concerned demonstrates ethnocentrism to be a continually oppressive force to those impacted. Australian society remains very far from its ambitions as a culturally pluralistic society.

Such optimists as Kalantzis (1995) project that there are opportunities for Australia to alter some aspects of the pattern through some of the public avenues that have historically functioned only to deepen the nation's racial inequality. Her research views emergent technologies as a path to providing space for cultural expression, preservation and generational extension. During a conference on the subject, her article reported that "the challenge is to make space available so that different lifeworlds can flourish, to create and allow spaces where local and specific meanings can be made. The new multimedia and hypermedia channels provide subcultural identities a new opportunity to find their own voices. These technologies have the potential to enable greater autonomy for different lifeworlds." (Kalantzis, 1) Of course, while this does address the need for groups such as Australian Aboriginals to be given a space for expression which is not governed or restrained by hegemonic interests and ideologies, it also indicates the need for foundational changes which have prevented cultural plurality.

Craven (1999) makes the case that appreciation and education in the field of Aborginal studies is key among areas which might precipitate positive change. She argues that false historical perspective has allowed the perpetuation of negative cultural behaviors without awareness of this pattern. She indicates that "conventional histories examine the settlement, not the invasion of Australia. It is the problems of the first settlers, the convicts, the squatters that interest historians, not the massive problems that confronted Aboriginal societies when the strangers arrived in their lands." ( Craven, 156) This illustrates a most basic need to rectify the impression that Australia is somehow a land to which white, English speaking descendents were entitled. There is no way to change the linguistic and ethnic history which has rendered present day Australia, but there may be ways to begin to relearn the nation's history so as to cast a more revealing light on its present shortcomings.

Educational and economic realities are the most prominent among them, producing a condition where access to such technology is itself scarce for those groups most directly impacted. In this regard, we can see a clear Catch-22 for those peoples who have been significantly excluded for the duration of multiple generations. The obstacles to equalization can at this juncture be self-perpetuating, leading to patterns which can be extremely difficult to be loosed of for both Australians and Aboriginals. Thus, ethnocentrism is a reality which is somewhat dominant for the present day Australian. This is perhaps true because there does persist a myth of cultural pluralism which, until resolved, will only further obscure and enable a grossly unequal social landscape.

Works Cited:

Clarke, T. (2005). Racism, pluralism and democracy in Australia: re-conceptualising racial vilification legislation. UNSW Library. Online at

Cox, D.R. (1976). Pluralism in Australia. Journal of Sociology, 12(2), 112-117.

Craven, R. (1999). Teaching Aboriginal Studies. Allen & Unwin.

Davies, A. (1996). 'Ironising the myth of linguicism.' Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 17(6).

Elliot, G.; Cameron, R. & Acharya, C. (1999). An Empirical Investigation of Consumer Ethnocentrism in Australia. Macquarie University.

Kalantzis, M. (1995). Global Cultural Diversity Conference Proceedings, Sydney. Australian Government: Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Online at

Marmot, M. (2005). Social Determinants of Health Inequalities. Lancet, 365, 1099-1104.


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