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The Assimilation, Settlement and Acculturation of South African Young Adult Migrants to a Brisbane Way of Life Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2019

Literature Overview

Brisbane is one of the most populous cities in Australia that is often identified as city of South African young adult migrants. In fact, for almost century immigration in Brisbane has remained predominantly South African young adults apart from white and English speaking people who have some political and historical links to Australia, and freedom of choice prevailed towards acceptance and settlements of the new arrivals.

The main assumption was South African young adults apart from refugees arrived in Brisbane to take up some of the jobs that were available.

Settlement, assimilation and acculturation issues of South African young adults gained some significant recognition towards the end of the twentieth century due to the removal of the traditional source country bias, and agreement to introduce the point-based method made things much easier for the immigrants than before.

Taras examined that the newly introduced laws changed the face of Brisbane economic situation since the young adult immigrants brought skills and knowledge that was added to the existing human capital, thus the city did not only realized significant improvements in human resources capital, but also the financial capital (Taras, 2007).

According to Berry, the effects of the new immigration policies in Brisbane were neither anticipated nor planned for, they were important in the city’s immigration history (Berry, 2006). During the last decade influxes of refugees in Brisbane were on the rising trend and a lot was needed to be done to assimilate, settle and acculturate them in new ways of life.

Importantly, the new immigration policies in Australia had some of the major repercussion in the country’s ethnic composition of that particular society, especially in Brisbane where the influx of South African young adults was very high, and this put a major test on the city’s ability to absorb the immigrants with lots of ease considering that they are highly educated and culturally different.

Arguably, the social cohesion of Brisbane society was indeed stained by the immigrants who wanted some reforms to be realized in the city’s by-laws, bicultural identity, security, and rapid restructuring processes (Berry, 2006).

Besides, they wanted to see that the immigration policies put in place were only focusing on entry requirement procedures and not based on settlement provisions after arrivals and possibly to do away with some of the multicultural policies found in the city.

But, interestingly enough, issues such as brain drain and foreign invasion can never fail to take both the public and political centre stage in many discussions on this field of knowledge (Clark & Hofsess, 1998).

Clyne studied that the assimilation, settlement and acculturation of South African young adult immigrants could only be effectively and successfully realized when the Australian government puts in place sound policies and relevant institutions that promote and support immigration at both the community level and the wider national scale (Clyne, 1991).

Since many South African young adult immigrants were selected mainly on the basis of both human resource and economic capital their desired outcomes should be assured, especially in areas where immigration settlement programs have been put in place, but this is not the case on the ground, and it is what has prompted this research on the interest to study the problem on the assimilation, settlement and acculturation of South African young adults.

Therefore, the following analysis gives some detailed accounts on themes and trends in research methodology, theory, questions and findings (Clyne, 1991).

Acculturation Theory

According to D’Andrea, Daniels and Heck, in every plural society that consists of various specific cultural groups, contacts that occur among people who live in that community often result into different group processes and individuals (D’Andrea, Daniels & Heck, 1990).

Therefore, the concept of acculturation can be understood to mean a change process that takes place when individuals who come from different cultural backgrounds get into continuous and prolonged contacts with one another, and this process affects individuals’ affection, behavior and possibly their cognitive levels on how they reason and perceive things.

They also argued that there is need to adopt a conceptual model that helps in understanding the acculturation process (D’Andrea, Daniels & Heck, 1990).

Theoretical Issues

Taras examined that acculturation conditions can be largely understood as some of background settings that include characteristics of societies where the immigrants originated from and the characteristic of the society that is meant to receive them, and possibly the expected intergroup relations, which can either be in the form of acceptance or rejection (Taras, 2007).

In addition, there are personal characteristics that often capture not only the individual process of acculturation, but also the individual one.

Often statements such as “I think Brisbane society discriminates my family because we are black South African immigrants” can be often heard among individual immigrants as they engage in some conversations, and these form some of the weighty theoretical issues that need to be seriously considered when assessing conditions of acculturation.

Arguably, it is critical to carry out some critical examinations of the conditions of acculturation, and these will help in determining some of the most specific aspects of the processes of acculturation, using acculturation condition measures that facilitate the means of getting some relevant insights about the generation conditions of acculturation.

And, in order to achieve these goals, support networks or ethnic vitality evidences must prevail so as to play some beneficial roles in process of acculturation. Another theoretical issue that needs to be examined is the process of acculturation orientation (Taras, 2007).

Brisbane, Ramirez & Epstein emphasized that acculturation orientation processes are essential in the sense that they facilitate ways through which main stream culture among the immigrant culture are dealt with.

And, without the process of acculturation orientations, it is not possible to harmonize the two cultures, thus making it impossible to assimilate, settle and acculturate South African young adult immigrants (Brisbane, Ramirez & Epstein, 1998).

Acculturation orientation processes are so important that they cannot be ignored in the study since they form the core of acculturation and help in maintaining the ethnic culture and facilitate the adoption of mainstream culture. Besides, acculturation orientation process must be in tandem with immigration issues such as marginalization, integration, assimilation, and separation among others (Brisbane, Ramirez & Epstein, 1998).

Ward, Bochner and Furnham further studied that acculturation outcome can as well be examined under this study since it is associated with consequences of acculturation and often focuses on psychological outcomes that include, but not limited to individual well-being and sociocultural outcomes which promote appropriate behavior, language, cultural knowledge and skills (Ward, Bochner & Furnham, 2001).

They also argued that acculturation measures should be used in addressing issues of sociocultural competencies towards maintaining ethnic culture and adaptation of mainstream culture (Ward, Bochner & Furnham, 2001).

According to Rudmin, acculturation attitudes are also witnessed among the immigrants, which refer to individual attitude towards certain preferences, which are their likes and dislikes (Rudmin, 2009). This is so because preferences occur among immigrant groups towards certain acculturation processes, and it would not sound important if the concept is not widely explored.

And, it is often believed and it cannot be ignored that attitudes play crucial roles as moderators and even as mediators in the acculturation process. Statements such as “I like my fellow South African immigrant co-workers” can be used as measures of acculturation attitudes.

In addition, the other concept that must be explored to facilitate thorough understanding of the assimilation, settlement and acculturation of South African young adults is acculturation behavior (Rudmin, 2009).

Zane and Mak emphasized that acculturation behaviors are understood as immigrants’ explicit competencies and these refers to the actual acts of the mainstream groups (Zane & Mak, 2003). They also revealed that these acculturation behaviors are interlinked with the acculturation outcomes (Zane & Mak, 2003).

For instance, South African young adult immigrants can choose to engage in their cultural heritage and traditions, and this would involve the use of their native languages that they often speak while at their home country.

However, depending on the circumstances and the situations present, they would tend to behave differently when in Brisbane since they have to use a common language that everybody else can understand so as to communicate effectively because failure to do so would totally bar communication processes.

Arguably, these acculturation behaviors are concerning specific aspects of different acculturation processes since acculturation attitudes are linked to acculturation orientations while acculturation behaviors draw their relationships from acculturation outcomes, and to avoid flaws in any research work, these concepts cannot be used interchangeably when examining acculturation.

From this analysis, it is clear that behaviors are crucial in acculturation assessment as well as individual attitudes. Finally, it is crucial to analyze life domains since they also play very crucial roles in studying assimilation, settlement and acculturation processes (Zane & Mak, 2003).

Gordon postulated that by drawing focus on life domains, cultural adoption cannot be underestimated in the analysis (Gordon, 1964). This is so because adopting cultures and maintaining them among immigrants often vary in different life domains.

Therefore, researches must come up with definite domain aspects on assimilation, settlement and acculturation processes and this can be categorized as either private domains or public domains.

Basing one’s argument on the concepts of assimilation, settlement and acculturation of South African young adult immigrants, private domains are more personal such as one’s family while public domains focus on social aspects of life such as the immigrant’s educational life and probably their education life.

And when assessing the assimilation, settlement and acculturation, one should not ignore the fact that frequent domains that include, but not limited to food eaten, language spoken, media of communication, friends to socialize with, one’s personal family, and romantic relationships that individuals often engage in (Gordon, 1964).

Focusing on the aspects of language, more often than not, one would hear immigrants responding in interviews that “I can communicate in English, but not as fluent as a native English speaker”. Since it has been ascertained that assimilation, settlement and acculturation are domain specific, both private and public elements must be considered as measures of acculturation.

Schalk-Soekar supported the same argument that it is also important to put into account that proper choices should be made on life domains since they depend on both culture and age, and in the analysis of this research problem, sound knowledge of both the South African and Brisbane cultures is necessary in making some careful selections of domains and distinct items that are used in different instruments of acculturation (Schalk-Soekar, 2007).

Focusing on study carried out by Giles and Taylor, It can be ascertained from the literature review that the South African young adult immigrants face a number of challenges to assimilate to Brisbane’s way of life (Giles & Taylor, I977).

For instance, the immigrants who have little language skills, or those with limited academic qualifications might decide to go for further training so as to remain relevant and competent in Brisbane marketplace.

They also found out that skilled South African young adult immigrants with competent skills and excellent academic qualifications do not get jobs easily since they are still required to take further courses in order to remain relevant in the job market.

However, a great number of South African young adult immigrants who have been interviewed still felt some changes must be effected in respect to further training requirements to facilitate meeting the immigrant’s needs. Therefore, the immigrants suggested that the courses should be relevant to Brisbane job market and easily accessed (Giles & Taylor, I977).

Based on research conducted by Sam and Berry, it can be concluded that more research is needed about the effectiveness and prevalence of the response of further learning in respect to non-recognition of knowledge and possibly unemployment (Sam & Berry, 2006).

In fact, this can be witnessed in cases where by the South African young adult immigrants testified that they only secure employment opportunities in Brisbane once they complete taking further course or upon enrolling for a further certificate course.

However, the literature on the assimilation, settlement and acculturation of South African young adult immigrants to Brisbane way of life has failed to provide research about the study after employment.

Sam and Berry ascertained that various scholars of psychology and sociology have reported that the South African immigrants find it very difficult to secure jobs in Brisbane, and probably the further-study program they were exposed to, could only make a few of them secure employment opportunities (Sam & Berry, 2006).

This is a rather sad scenario since young and skilled immigrants cannot get jobs, even after undergoing some further training. In fact, this makes it hard for South African young adult immigrants to settle, assimilate and acculturate to Brisbane’s way of life.

Berry (2006) observed that housing for settlement is a major challenge for many South African young adult immigrants in Brisbane, and to the refugees as well (Berry, 2006). Berry also found that lack of decent housing for settlement is attributed inadequate income among the immigrants who cannot afford to pay house-rent (Berry, 2006).

Therefore, according to Berry, the landlords in Brisbane are very reluctant to let the South African immigrants settle in their houses since they are viewed as people who are not capable of paying rental fees (Berry, 2006).

In addition, Berry (1992) observed that the few landlords who agreed to let their houses to a handful South African immigrants exploited them by charging exorbitant rates, and some of their neighbors were not willing to socialize with them (Berry, 1992).

However, since this study was mainly based on mere observation, it is difficult to ascertain with the highest degree of accuracy that the landlords are the major impediments to the immigrant’s safe settlement.

Arends-Tóth and Van de Vijver (2006a) examined that social participation among South African young adult immigrants is often employment dependent (Arends-Tóth, & Van de Vijver, 2006a). They further studied that a decent job offers the immigrants with ample leisure time to actively participate in several social organizations and possibly clubs.

This is supported by the fact that social participation is only possible with decent jobs since contract work does not allow the immigrants to take part in social activities. Arends-Tóth and Van de Vijver, 2006b further supported the same idea by drawing on the same claims (Arends-Tóth & Van de Vijver, 2006b).

However, just like their predecessors, their researches have failed to give detailed account on whether the few South African young adult immigrants who secured good employments in Brisbane assimilated and acculturated well due to social participation. Therefore, it is recommended to carry some further study in this area.

Literature review findings

Benet-Martínez (2004) ascertained that assimilation and acculturation impairments or immigrants’ reluctance to learn after some years of studies clearly represent a complicated condition and many issues can be partly responsible for it (Benet-Martínez, 2004).

They further found out that the South African young adult immigrants in Brisbane, just like all Immigrants need to have friends, have fun with toys, love their families, and enjoy learning new skills (Benet-Martínez, 2004). However, some immigrants gain knowledge, acculturate, settle, and assimilate faster and more easily than others.

And in some cases, they learn how to read or do additional work using the newly acquired language, and they discover these skills without being shown by anyone.

According to Ward, Bochner & Furnham, rapid-learning gifted South African young adults who have previously gained a skill or does not need repetition to master it can become quite dispirited- to the point of disliking or even hating job places if there is nothing new or interesting to learn (Ward, Bochner & Furnham, 2001).

Gadamer examined that sociologists and psychologists have managed or controlled many experiments to develop special means of assimilation for reluctant immigrant learners. According to the research findings, it has established beyond reasonable doubt that video instructions are very effective to low ability or reluctant immigrants to assimilate.

Gadamer (1984) also studied the usefulness of mastery learning approach and ascertained it to be more successful for low achievers, especially in foreign lands. The research evidences reveal that the following special method will be very effective for immigrants (Gadamer, 1984).

According to Alexander, this is the means of adapting or conforming oneself to new or different conditions of instructions to the needs of diverse South African young adult immigrants (Alexander, 2003).

He also emphasized that the basic idea behind mastery learning is to make sure that all or almost all the immigrants have extensive information or understanding of a given skill to set up or lay the groundwork for level of mastery prior to going on to the subsequent skill (Alexander, 2003).

Benet-Martínez observed that the information used in this paper was collected by assessing immigrant X from continuous assessment reports (Benet-Martínez, 2006).

In order to thoroughly examine his/her academic and technical skills, the case study questions were carefully designed to cover all relevant factors which include socio-cultural aspects, personality factors, learning environment, learning styles, learning strategies, the degree of acculturation and the integrative motivation of the learner.

The answers were classified into different relevant factors by their orientation. By analyzing the answers, the factors which mainly influence these immigrants’ academic and technical ability have been uncovered (Benet-Martínez, 2006).

Alexander advised that to get to the bottom of the immigrant’s approach to assimilation, acculturation and settlement processes were also involved by having created a questionnaire or rather questionnaires bearing the same kind of questions and asking the involved parties (Alexander, 2003). After this the information was rounded up and after scrutinizing the information and comparing it against each questionnaire.

Alexander found out that the questionnaire proved rather the most suitable data collection technique in this case. A written questionnaire is a data assortment tool in which written questions are offered that are to be replied by the respondents in writing. Due to the fact that questionnaires permit anonymity, it attracts more honest reactions from respondents.

It also permits respondents time to consider their reactions to each question. It also saves money and time spent gathering data from a large number of people. Questionnaires reduce bias and can tackle a large amount of concerns and questions of unease in a relatively resourceful way, with the opportunity of a high reply speed. However, the can also not be used on illiterate respondents.

The questionnaire was made so that the respondents had set choices to answer. With the respondents reacting to questions in only one answer as opposed to explanatory replies, the data could be processed more rapidly. According to Ward, Bochner and Furnham, the queries were simple for easy comprehension (Ward, Bochner & Furnham, 2001).

A critique/evaluation of the existing literature

Existing literature evaluation can be best understood under the following subheadings.

Contributions of the literature to the field of knowledge

Overall strengths

The research overview measures have strong correlation with context of the study problem. The measures achieved the goals of examining assimilation, settlement and acculturation of South African young adults in Brisbane.

Overall weaknesses

The comparative study on assimilation, settlement and accumulation of South African young adult immigrants in Brisbane was rather weak since it failed to incorporate a unified system of assessment that can be built using database of instruments. Besides, the research was based on simple models that cannot analyze the complex processes of multiculturalism.

For instance, some measures of acculturation were specifically meant to analyze language, but fail to incorporate assimilation and cultural aspects of the study. Finally, this research failed to put into account comparative acculturation processes, and much emphasis was not put on settlement elements of the research study problem.

Missing elements

Essential database instruments were lacking and their properties that make use of meta-analytic methods to decide on the best assessment methods to be employed in the study. Though, the research literature dealt much on acculturation, elements such as assimilation and settlement were not given equal weight.

Proposed steps for next research

Focusing on the next research that is meant to examine assimilation, settlement and acculturation of South African young adults, database instruments should be involved to ensure more refined study outcomes. There is also the proposal to expand this field of knowledge since it is currently too small to accommodate such complex analytical procedures.

In addition, the next research work should incorporate various life domains such as friends’ ethnicity or even immigrants’ cultural maintenance. And, the next research should make sound decisions on whether to incorporate behaviors and attitudes in the assessment. Moreover, multiple items or different response formats with detailed psychometric properties should be chosen for the study.


Alexander, V.D. (2003). The Cultural Diamond – The Production of Culture: Sociology of the arts: exploring fine and popular forms. New York, NY: Wiley- Blackwell.

Arends-Tóth, J. V., & Van de Vijver, F. J. R. (2006a). Assessment of psychological acculturation: Choices in designing an instrument. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Arends-Tóth, J.V., & Van de Vijver, F. J. R. (2006b). Issues in conceptualization and assessment of acculturation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Bayer, A. H., Benet-Martinez, V. (2004). Multiculturalism: Cultural, personality, and social processes. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Benet-Martínez, V. (2006). Benet-Martínez Acculturation Scale. Web.

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Berry, J.W. (2006). Stress perspectives on acculturation. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

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Gadamer, G.H. (1984). Truth and method. New York: Continuum.

Giles, H. B., & Taylor, D. M. (I977). Towards a theory of language in ethnic group relations. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press.

Gordon, M. M. (1964). Assimilation in American Life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Rudmin, F. W. (2009). Catalogue of acculturation constructs: Descriptions of 126 taxonomies, 1918-2003. Web.

Sam, D. L., & Berry, J. W. (2006). The Cambridge handbook of acculturation psychology. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University

Schalk-Soekar, S. R. G. (2007). Multiculturalism: A stable concept with many ideological and political aspects. The Netherlands: Tilburg University.

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