The concept of ethnic concentration can be defined as the one of landscape diversity meaning the social landscape. In this respect, it is necessary to note on the example of northern and southern cities of the United States of America, as suggested by Lewis (1979, p.16), that the difference is likely to disappear. The same concept can be applied to Cabramatta as a suburb of Sydney where an urban social landscape dominates over the rural one which can be explained as one of the preconditions of a faster convergence.
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The study by Dunn (1998) suggests an overview of the concept of ethnic concentration as it appears in Cabramatta, Sydney. Different theories dwell on the principles of ethnic diversity and ethnic concentration whereas it is necessary to focus on the benefits of such social and territorial division of the population and their application in the contemporary society and other sectors including commerce, education, tourism, and others.
For instance, Ardrey (1967 cited in Dunn, 1998, p.505) emphasises the importance of socio-biological roots of ethnic concentration and a desire of the ethnic minority to protect its gene pool.
Another theory is the one that dwells on the four-stage principle of relations between ethnic groups and races highlighting “process of contact, conflict, accommodation, and assimilation” (Park, 1950 cited in Dunn, 1998, p.506). Defence, preservation, attack, and social support are defined as the basic functions of the ethnic concentration by Boal (1976 cited in Dunn, 1998, p.508) who represents the Weberian school of urban studies and tries to apply the concepts of closure to ethnic concentrations that face a conflict.
Cabramatta has become a centre of Vietnamese-Chinese born population that comes to the suburbs of Sydney as residents. This fact can be considered a bit controversial because every coin has two sides and each theory has its supporters and opponents. It is necessary to point out various factors on ethnic concentration in this area that seem to be either beneficial or disadvantageous.
Thus, Birrell (1993) addresses the territory of Cabramatta as the one inhabited with the ethnically diverse population. So, it is necessary to emphasise that the territory has been already had populated with representatives of various ethnic minorities and the arrival of Chinese and Vietnamese born population is not likely to affect the situation dramatically.
The problems of ethnic concentrations in Cabramatta appear due to the cultural diversity a low financial stability level resulting in other problems. “A specific voucher policy designed to reduce economic residential segregation might also have the effect of increasing opportunities for labour market success” (Clark, 2008, p.516).
Though this concept was offered in the study by Clark (2008) concerning the situation faced by American people, it is necessary to agree on the fact that such measures can be rather applicable to the situation faced by Australians and Vietnamese born residents of Cabramatta.
Besides, some psychological impact can be observed in people that live in the areas where poverty concentration has topped the expected level; as suggested by Galster and Zobel (1998 cited in Clark, 2008, p.516), “residence in concentrated poverty neighbourhoods abets socially dysfunctional behaviour”.
The problem of neighbourhoods has also been addressed in the study by Jones-Webb and Wall (2008) who accentuates the danger of neighbourhood of Hispanic and African-American ethnic concentrations.
This concept can be also applied to the situation in Cabramatta where Vietnamese born and Chinese born people live in the neighbourhood on territory of increased ethnic concentration of Indochinese residents without being initially successful in establishing relationships. This may lead to poor education progress and other social disorders such as drug abuse and increase in the crime rate.
One of the advantages of this ethnic concentration typical of Cabramatta is the “development as a ‘focal point’ for ethnic specific institutions” (Birrell, 1993, p.26). In this respect, tourists are attracted with ethnically coloured shopping areas and other appealing peculiarities of ethnically marked areas.
Viviani suggests that the concentration of the Vietnamese born population is not large and can “disperse as the financial capacity of the Vietnamese improves” (1993 cited in Birrell, 1993, p.27). In other words, the situation is not approached as a problem. On the contrary, ethnic concentrations in Cabramatta can be changed with the help of financial improvement whereas some areas that are usually called ghettoes need changes in financial, social, and educational sector.
Besides, the Vietnamese population that arrives to Sydney is provided with certain educational and other types of programmes to ensure that they can acquire language and other peculiarities while living in the area where these institutions are situated hence forming the ethnic concentration in the suburbs of Sydney.
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To conclude, the concept of ethnic concentration can be approached in different ways but it is also necessary to address advantages and disadvantages of this issue respectively. So, the benefits of ethnic concentration in Cabramatta include original cultural diversity and culturally marked shopping areas attracting tourists whereas the increased standard of life is likely to change the situation.
The negative features of ethnic concentrations include poor social rates such as poor educational progress and some growth in crime rates. While authorities argue on the measures to be taken in this situation, the problem can disappear after a convergence of social landscapes that make ethnic concentrations so obvious.
Birrell, B., 1993. Ethnic concentrations: the Vietnamese experience. People and Place, 1 (3), pp.26-31.
Clark, W. A. V., 2008. Reexamining the moving to opportunity study and its contribution to changing the distribution of poverty and ethnic concentration. Demography, 45 (3), pp.515–35.
Dunn, K. M., 1998. Rethinking ethnic concentration: the case of Cabramatta, Sydney. Urban Studies, 35 (3), pp.503-27.
Jones-Webb, R., and Wall, M., 2008. Neighborhood racial/ethnic concentration, social disadvantage, and homicide risk: an ecological analysis of 10 U.S. cities. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 85 (5), pp.662-76.
Lewis, P. F., 1979. Axioms for reading landscapes. Some guides to the American scene. In: D. W. Meinig, ed. 1979. The interpretation of ordinary landscapes geographical essays. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.11-32.