Testing citizen identities: Australian migrants and the Australian values debate

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Identities, 2015, 21 (6), pp. 573 - 589
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Taylor & Francis. In this paper I explore how recent public debates about Australian values impact on the everyday lives of migrants preparing to become naturalised Australian citizens. Framed through the perspective of governmentality, I combine textual analyses of government documents relating to the Australian citizenship test with ethnographies of recently-arrived migrants in order to demonstrate how political practices related to the conferral of Australian citizenship link and interconnect with the production of migrant subjectivities. In this way, I explore what aspiring citizens think about Australian values and how they contest, accept and negotiate these demands on them to adopt the Australian way of life. The analysis suggests that migrants in this study presented multiple and complex ways of being model Australian citizens. They drew on popular national myths about Australianness promoted in citizenship test resources but they also produced alternative subjectivities that promoted identification with everyday multiculturalism as central to living a happy and prosperous life in Australia.
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