The sense of belonging is fundamental issue in immigration experience, particularly in Australia as immigration is the main driver for the increase of population in Australia. It has been argued that despite efforts by the recent Labor and Coalition governments to undermine the excellent custom of granting citizenship, the main practical issue surrounding belonging is not about to have access of citizenship or not (Hage 2002, 2). This essay is aimed to stand that ‘belong’ is the idea of having feeling or belief of being part of something, to have relationship, to be ‘accepted and included within all elements, which also brought to the process of assimilation. Therefore, the following paragraphs in this paper seek to explore the understanding of ‘belonging’ in the context of Australia and to address the differences that immigrants themselves draw on having or not having citizenship in the experiences of belonging in Australia.
The Concept of Belonging
Belong tends to be seen as the consciousness to have the feeling of having relationship, and in case of Australia, is to have relationship with Australia. It is argued in here that relationship of people and their countries are drawn by their willingness to have the feeling of responsibility, possession, and the willing of contribution. The belonging and feeling of relationship are also perceived between the individual citizen and the nation, and loyalty as well as promotion of their duties (Yuval-Davis 2006, 206). In addition, relationship is also possible to be recognized from the way we attach our country. For instance, Eva Shubert migrated from Germany in 1958, a female wood carver, admits that she loves Australian flora very much, and as a result her clients started to accept her skills since 1970s (Shubert, 1996). Hence, from this perspective, although Shubert is not an origin from Australia, she had a feeling of love in Australia, thus made her being accepted by people from Australia, which also allows her the sense to belong in Australia. So, it could be argued that to have the sense of belonging, it is crucial to feel our relationship with something we belong.
Moreover, belonging is also about the feeling of being accepted in a society. It is because one of the central ways to belong is to be comfortable and fulfilled in where we are. For that reason, Hage (2002, 11) indicates that to belong in Australian is about to be honored, and to be recognized in our presence. It seems to mean that by being honored and recognized, we would feel accepted, as our presences are noticed by the societies, and by feeling the acceptance, it tends to make people feel that they are ‘included’ to that societies. “My utmost happiness is that I can still live my life, introducing and spreading the Japanese culture no matter how small my contribution maybe. I have been living my life in peace and with gratitude” (Jackson, 1985). As could be seen, Jackson was Japanese who has been living in Melbourne for 25 years. She had the feeling of being accepted, being ‘included’, which causes her to feel happy and comfortable. From this perspective, it could be seen, acceptance is felt by the feeling of being honored as well as included in society thus, people would be more likely to feel that they belong, as it allows them to have feeling of comfort, to have feeling of being part of where they are.
Besides that, this idea of belonging could also be understood by the process of assimilation. Assimilation is a process that assessed immigrants’ bonding with the host society, adoption of the culture and intermarriage with new society (Gordon 1964; Nagel 2002, 260). It could be seen when someone is trying to balance himself to that group, to not isolating himself from the society. “My Chinese style painting was not all that traditional, it has a modern feel because of the western influences I had absorbed.” (Xiang, 1997). It could be assumed that