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Culture in Australia
 
 
 

As to culture in the narrow sense - culture as voluntary, often non-economic activity - there are several schools of thought. One maintains that Australia has no real culture outside of second-hand imports from Europe and the USA. Proponents of this view point to the predominance of foreign books, music, and art, and claim that home-grown products are largely derivative.

For years, many Australians suffered from an inferiority complex, called the "cultural cringe", regarding other countries, particularly European ones, believing that anything from overseas was inherently superior to anything Australian. This was especially true in Australia's relationship with Britain, but as Australians have travelled more widely, and their country has been exposed to cultural influences from other countries, this has waned. Australians still have a "love-hate" relationship with Britain. Some ridicule the so-called "Old Country" as snobbish, class-obsessed and backward-looking. Others note that there is a large Australian expatriate population in London, including Germaine Greer, Rolf Harris and Clive James, widely known in the UK.

Others seize eagerly on each small point of difference, and brandish relatively small parts of the Australian cultural experience as if these were sufficient to demonstrate that a new and vital culture has emerged in the two centuries since European settlement.

Somewhere in between these two views may be found the great central thread of debate about Australian culture: the perennial attempt to ask and answer the question, "Does Australia 'have' a culture, and if so what is it?" The obsessive preoccupation with this question has lasted decades, and shows no sign of fading.

Finally, there is what might be termed a culturally agnostic view, which holds that endlessly debating Australian culture is futile and pointless, and that the important thing is to simply get on with living and creating it. This last viewpoint is expressed in intellectual terms from time to time, but is mostly evident in the practical activities of Australians in a wide range of fields.

Whilst built and strongly influenced by the British, contemporary Australia is a mixture of cultures. This is largely due to strong immigration policies, bringing more than 200,000 new migrants to Australia in the last year. In October 2005 one in four people in Australia were born overseas! With the Government’s increased focus on immigration policy there is no doubt that Australia is set to remain a strong multicultural society. Australia’s multicultural policy promotes acceptance of and respect for cultural diversity, and supports the right of each Australian to maintain and celebrate, within the law, their culture, language or religion.

Visit: http://www.immi.gov.au/multicultural/australian/index.htm

Living in Harmony: http://www.harmony.gov.au

and the Culture and Recreation Portal: http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au


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