Intercultural Personhood: A 'Mainstream' Australian Biographical Case Study

Helen Dianne Shearer, University, My, Bob Funnell
This thesis explores the question of intercultural personhood in two 'mainstream' Australian cases within interpersonal, intercultural relations in Australian contexts in the second half of the twentieth century. The problem is viewed through three disciplinary lenses: those of communication, psychology and sociology. A qualitative, interdisciplinary approach integrates these through an inductive biographical research design. Within cross-cultural communication studies, a host culture such as
more » ... at of the Anglo-Australian majority is seen in a monolithic and static way to which Australians of other cultural backgrounds are seen to adapt. These studies give no place to the changes which members of the majority undergo. 'Intercultural personhood', a term coined by Kim (1988, 2001), describes the kinds of 'ethnic' individuals who through negotiating their identities within personal, social and mass communication contexts, both host and ethnic, move beyond the bounds of their own cultural heritage to embrace both their former cultural identity and the new 'host' (viz Australian) identity. In this thesis, the elements of cross-cultural adaptation theory and of 'intercultural personhood' are applied to the intercultural experience of 'mainstream' Australians. From preliminary memory work workshops and focus groups, the cases of two mainstream individuals who show some evidence of 'intercultural personhood' and make identity claims comparable with 'ethnic' adapters are then developed through biographical method. Their life accounts are drawn on for the exploration of issues of identity and personhood within interpersonal, intercultural relations. Major focus is given to the social psychology of Harre (1983, 1993, 1998), whose work provided both a conceptualisation and a methodological tool for the problem. In Harré's work, three dimensions of personhood, namely consciousness, agency and biography are identified together with the psycho-social processes through which an individual's identity and orientation to their cult [...]
doi:10.25904/1912/1211 fatcat:hjs56bwnqnb2jemmshjd6mw44q