FOB Boys, VCs and Habibs: Using Language to Navigate Difference and Belonging in Culturally Diverse Sydney

Butcher, Melissa (2008). FOB Boys, VCs and Habibs: Using Language to Navigate Difference and Belonging in Culturally Diverse Sydney. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34(3) pp. 371–387.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691830701880202

Abstract

Language, like other elements of popular culture, is an explicit marker of belonging and identity. It also represents the tension between cultural continuity and change in diverse societies. This paper examines how second-generation migrant youth in western Sydney utilise language to navigate difference and belonging, between communities and between generations, establishing boundaries of inclusion and exclusion. The data, based on qualitative interviews, are analysed within a framework linking the deployment of language with power and social context. The findings argue that language is used as a symbolic resource in acts both of demarcating difference and belonging, at times defining new social spaces, as well as defying points of authority within dominant fields of power. Social context is at times more important than language in determining feelings of affiliation or difference. As new frames of reference for Australian culture and new understandings of what it means to be Australian are expressed, vocabularies other than mother tongues are incorporated into this process.

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