Sociology of Indian-Australians and the Diwali Festival

I’ve been away for work for awhile now, and hope to bring you more on this soon. For now, I thought I’d share with you a post I had planned to  publish weeks ago, but haven’t been able to finish until now. Let’s talk about the sociology of Indian people in Australia, with a case study of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Melbourne.

Indian migration to Australia has a long history, dating back to the 19th Century,  with early records showing the British brought Indian servants (noting this may have included forced servitude). At the time of colonial Australia’s first Census, there were 1,800 Indian people in Australia. Today, Indian-Australians represent our fourth largest migrant group and they are also the biggest growing migrant group next to China, with their population doubling in the past decade, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In the most recent Census of 2016, over 455,000 Australians were born in India, corresponding to 1.9% of our population, though this does not include the second-generation (their children born in Australia).  Together with Nepalese-Australians, Indian people make up 76% of the Hindu population in Australia (noting that Hindu people make up only 1.9% of our national population).

Indian families gather at Diwali: Indian Festival of Light Oct 2014. Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
Diwali: Indian Festival of Light, Federation Square

Continue reading Sociology of Indian-Australians and the Diwali Festival

Being Chinese in Aotearoa

Being Chinese in Aotearoa: A Photographic Journey. This is a stunning and informative history of migration. It documents difficulties and triumphs in the face of ongoing racism. Highly recommend visiting if you’re in New Zealand Aotearoa. On the left you can see Appo Hocton (Ah Poo Hoc Ting), who arrived in his 20s, in 1842, to become the first documented Chinese-New Zealander. Continue reading Being Chinese in Aotearoa

Media, Universities and Social Movements

Sociologist Dingxin Zhao argues that in an authoritarian society, social movements are radical while in democratic states, social movements are reformist. In his book, The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement, Zhao argues that even though Western societies position the media as an independent agent, Zhao’s research shows that the media tends to portray the views of the dominant culture. By representing the majority, the media are actually conformist.

In an authoritative regime, the media are under state control. Zhao argues that in China in the mid-1980s, the media tried to escape state control by reporting positively on the student protest movement. Similarly, Zhao argues that universities are more radical in an “underdeveloped authoritarian regime” than in Western societies. In China, the university system “over produced” students who then joined radical social movements.

Zhao’s comparative focus on state institutions and social institutions remains ever useful.  


Photo: Dingxin Zhao (University of Chicago) speaking at the Third Chinese Political Sociology Workshop. By UChicago Beijing via Flickr.

Source: The Other Sociologist.

Sociology of the National Arboretum

Playground at the National Arboretum Canberra

One of the themes of my visual sociology is the representation of science. Conservation is as much about social practices as it is about earth science, biology and other natural sciences. Today’s post is about the sociology of the National Arboretum, which sits on Ngunawal country. Ngunawal people are the traditional custodians of this part of Acton, west of the city in Canberra. Less than a seven minute drive central business district, this is one of the world’s largest arboretums for rare and endangered trees. I am no arborist. I cannot even claim to be a fan of gardening. I was interested in the Arboretum first in an attempt to capture a visual sociology of Canberra, and second to see how people interact with this place as a science centre. The focus of my post today is on the social dynamics of the Arboretum, especially on community aspects of conservation and the trees that drew the greatest interest amongst the crowds I saw: the Bonsai and Penjing Collection .
National Arboretum (18)

Continue reading Sociology of the National Arboretum

Tiananmen Square Massacre and Chinese Migration

The protests in Tiananmen Square in China in 1989 resulted in up to 2,600 deaths and in the injury of up to 10,000 people, most of them students. The protests were a reaction to Government corruption and poor socioeconomic policies. It began as a series of non-violent resistance such as a hunger strike and public sit ins. The movement is represented by the iconic “Tank Man,” seen in this comic, who stood in front of an army tank and refused to move. He embodies the power of social change.

Australian immigration policy changed temporarily in the 1980s and early 1990s to take in an influx of Chinese migrants as a result of the ongoing political turmoil. Most of these migrants were students and professionals. They have been highly mobile and contributed tremendously to Australian society in the professional classes.


People lining up outside Taiwan Cafe, Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Taiwanese-Australians are the second largest Chinese migrant group in Australia. Most of them arrived during the 1980s as highly educated professionals who were relatively well-off overseas. The vast majority arrived under business visas. Continue reading Taiwanese-Australians

Importance of Intercultural Education for International Students

Importance of Intercultural Education for International Students in Australia. (Repost)

International students represent a large economic and international relations investment for Australia. Australian universities are increasingly relying upon overseas students for their revenue, but these institutions are not adequately addressing the special learning, linguistic, cultural and religious needs of these students. Despite their Australian education, international students experience various difficulties in finding work in their field of study after they graduate. Poor English-language, communication and problem-solving skills are the biggest obstacles to securing ongoing and satisfying jobs. Employer biases regarding international students are equally a problem. Below, I provide a demographic overview of the international student population in Australia. I argue that a stronger focus on the socialisation of international students is likely to increase their educational and career satisfaction.  Continue reading Importance of Intercultural Education for International Students

Sociology of Eco-Tourism


In this post, I show how sociology can contribute to collective understandings of sustainable tourism in China. I was inspired in response to the #ISeeTheWorldWithScience initiative promoted by a community I co-manage, Science on Google+. This is a game where members of our community are invited to write a caption for science images using their scientific perspective. The image for this week was of a beautiful forest (above). The instructions were:

I See the World with Science Image Game

Pillars of solitude. Life grabbing hold. Misty Mountains eroded by time. 

What more does science let you see?

#ISeeTheWorldWithScience Game: Suggest a short caption for the picture.  The caption must be founded on solid science but the more surprising the better. The community moderators will choose the best caption and repost an image with the caption on it in. Vote for your favourites by +1ing to influence the moderator’s choice!

Discussion: Discuss any aspect of the photo and what any field of science tells us more about what we are seeing and it’s context, including how we are seeing it, why it’s important.*

I captioned my response with ‘sociology of eco-tourism.’ Here’s why. Continue reading Sociology of Eco-Tourism