Comparison of Ethnic Stratification in Australia and the United States Tiffani Gibson
SOC308: Racial & Ethnic Groups
Dr. J Kipp
September 1, 2014
Comparison of Ethnic Stratification in Australia and the United States
Australia is a large continent located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Its climate is generally dry to semi dry, with a temperate climate in the south and east, and a tropical climate in the north. The terrain is mostly low plateaus with deserts and a fertile plain in the southeast. It is the world’s smallest continent, but the sixth largest country by total area. The country is made up of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and several smaller islands. It is the sixth largest country in the world, comprising three basic ethnic groups. Whites make up 92% of the population, Asians seven percent, and aboriginal and other groups comprise just one percent of the population. Both countries are culturally diverse and, to a degree, embrace multiculturalism. Although quite similar in ethnicity, the United States and Australia have different approaches to ethnic stratification and both could benefit from studying the mistakes each has made in order to achieve true ethnic harmony, equality and multiculturalism for both countries.
Because Australians tend to embrace multiculturalism to a greater degree than do citizens of the United States, ethnic stratification has not been a driving factor for Australians. “Australian multiculturalism, seen as a strategy of managing cultural diversity and a social policy - has been often misunderstood and confused with ethno-cultural pluralism and assimilationist 'melting pot'” (Confusions About Multiculturalism, 2011, p. 1). In the present day, ethnic stratification is not a large issue. Australians embrace multiculturalism and allow minorities to retain their cultural identifies and traditional lifestyles. The country is culturally diverse and grants equal rights and opportunities to all citizens regardless of culture. However, this has not always been the case.
Unlike the United States, Australia was originally only settled by the British, which formed its dominate national culture. Originally settled as a penal colony, as a way for Britain to continue to transport prisoners overseas in continuance of their penal policy after the American Revolution, Australia was first settled by a group of about 1500 people in January 1788. Nearly half of this group was convicts. Over the years, approximately 160,000 prisoners were brought to Australia. The original penal colony ended after about 60 years, with the establishment of New South Wales in 1850 and what is now Tasmania in 1852. Western Australia was founded in 1830 by free immigrants and added convicts to its citizenry by its own choice until 1868. Sadly, the convicts received better treatment than Australian natives. The government’s approach to the native Australian Aborigines was one of extinction. “Extinction is an extreme of pluralism that is more severe than genocide because its perpetrators see and treat their victims as animals that needed to be exterminated. Although Australian Aborigines now participate in the country's multicultural society, they remain a disadvantaged minority.” (Zack, 2012, Section 12.3, pg. 3). By 2011, twenty-five percent of Australians were non-native.
Far from its origins, Australia does have some ethnic problems today, but it is a mostly harmonious country that encourages and embraces multiculturalism. The country is respectful of the common core of institutions, rights and obligations and does not encourage discrimination, although there are often incidences of discrimination and prejudice. For example, almost 40% of Australians believe Muslim, Middle Eastern and Asian people do not fit in with Australian society. Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees have also experienced...
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