Marias and Marriage: ethnicity, gender and sexuality among Italo-Australian youth in Perth

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Abstract

Using an ethnographic account of weddings and network activities among Italo-Australian youth in Perth, and, in particular; a symbolic analysis of garters and bouquets, this paper explores the intersections of ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and reviews social scientific theories of ethnic identity and cultural transmission. By investigating the double standard-where men are free to be sexually active and women are not-it confronts some of the stereotypes about 'second generation Australians' and 'culture clash', female oppression and the control of sexuality. Of particular concern is the way that some Italo-Australian women perceive sexual freedom in Australian society. The paper argues that the moral community represented by the youth network and, in particular, the challenges posed by it to the traditional model of female honour, allow for significant generational changes in the construction of ethnic identity. By analysing how identities are constructed and articulated across difference, and how 'this kind of relativising' is 'embodied in the habitus (cf. Bourdieu 1977) of the second generation' (Bottomley 1992a: 132), the paper explodes homogeneous conceptions of what is Italian, and Italo-Australian culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalJournal of Sociology
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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