Applied Social Studies - Masters by Research Theses

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    ‘Both/and rather than either/or’: an insight into the real-life experiences of Asian/Irish youth in contemporary Irish society
    (University College Cork, 2020-09-17) Alam, Barbara; O'Riordan, Jacqui; Ni Laoire, Caitriona
    This research investigates and analyses the factors that influence the lived experiences and identity negotiations of young people, who have grown up in Ireland, in families with mixed-ethnicity. Unlike research on this conducted previously in Ireland, it focuses on young people who have one Asian and one white Irish parent. According to the 2016 Irish census, there were 62,953people, resident and present in the state who identified themselves as either Asian or Asian/Irish (CSO, 2016). However, despite these significant numbers, there is not a lot of research on multi-ethnic young people even though attention is being paid to young people from migrant backgrounds. The rationale for choosing to study this cohort of young people’s experiences stems from being the mother of three multi-ethnic children. Consequently, my position within this research is complex, in the sense that due to my involvement I have acquired an acute awareness of the negotiations that take place during these multi-ethnic young people’s everyday social interactions, based on stories relayed by my children. Subsequently, this study is conducted to try to capture the processes and events that are part of the lived experiences of multi-ethnic Asian/Irish young people living in Ireland. A qualitative approach is used to conduct the research. This approach helps to meet the aims of this research which are to unearth the everyday encounters being experienced. Evidence is drawn from two sources: focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with young people from this specific cohort. Sixteen multi-ethnic young people, seven young women and nine young men, aged between 18 and 35 participated. While their parents’ ethnic backgrounds were diverse, they shared one commonality: one of their parents was ethnic Irish, which in this context meant that they were white, and one parent was Asian. Although significant diversity was found in their experiences it was evident that issues pertaining to ‘race’ permeated their lived experiences, encompassing assumptions about colour, culture and religion. All multi-ethnic young people taking part in this study were subjected to racism based on Asian stereotypes. Their identity choices were limited and they felt marginalised to a certain extinct within contemporary Irish society due to dominant ideas about Irishness. Nevertheless, despite this multi-ethnic young people were seen to adopt survival strategies and managed their identity negotiations by challenging assumptions and negative stereotypes about the mixedness of their identities.