Affinities in multicultural neighbourhoods: shared values and their differences

Ellie Vasta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


The focus of this paper is based on the ‘affinities’ that exist between various ethnic groups (including long-established non-migrant communities). The research is concerned with what we have in common across groups, examining and comparing the values (concepts or beliefs that guide our behaviour and actions) people define as important for themselves, as individuals and members of ethnic groups or communities. In many western democracies there is concern that some ethnic groups are not integrating because their cultures or values are ‘too different’ from the mainstream. Generally, the ‘common values’ expressed are those of the receiving society, such as in the ‘Australian Value Statement’ or ‘the importance of British values’ publicly noted by three British Prime Ministers since 9/11. In this paper I will examine solidarity as a theoretical problem: its meaning, its contexts and foundations and will then systematically consider the relationship between affinities and difference. Based on findings from research conducted in Sydney, my analysis indicates that in everyday life in the multi-ethnic neighbourhood there are significant affinities (similarities in values and practices between ethnic and religious groups) that far outweigh differences; and that these affinities provide the basis of connectivity that sustain social, local and ethnic sense of belonging. I conclude by considering that the differences between generations might be greater than differences between ethnic groups; and that the hierarchization of values can set up unequal power relations in the process of cultural production and solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Australian Sociological Association Conference (TASA 2012)
Subtitle of host publicationemerging and enduring inequalities : proceeding
EditorsAlex Broom, Lynda Cheshire
Place of PublicationHawthorn, Vic.
PublisherThe Australian Sociological Association
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780646587837
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventThe Australian Sociological Association Conference - St Lucia, Queensland
Duration: 26 Nov 201229 Nov 2012


ConferenceThe Australian Sociological Association Conference
CitySt Lucia, Queensland


  • affinities
  • solidarity
  • values
  • belonging
  • difference
  • social cohesion
  • multiculturalism


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