Complex but ordinary: intercultural negotiations among mixed families in Australia

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How do mixed migrant families negotiate their cultural differences? Using in-depth data from 30 interviews with 13 families of mixed Asian and other backgrounds who have settled in Australia, we explore how habitus is generated and modified through these negotiations. Adding complexity to the experience of acculturation for migrant families from a single culture of origin, mixed families must engage two cultures of origin plus the new host culture, to create a unique familial environment supportive of cultural difference, but also adaptive within the new context. We apply Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and field, and an interest in emotion, to interrogate the transformations focussing on themes that arose inductively, namely food, education and children’s socializing. We find evidence of care and compromise, pragmatism and apprehension, adaptability and rigidity, within the context of assimilative and integrative social forces. We also note the significance of gender roles. Mixed migrant families see themselves as no different from other families in the day-to-day negotiation of differences of opinion and practice. But they offer an insight into the complexity of living ‘everyday multiculturalism’, creating confluence from diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1504-1526
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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