The interconnection between acculturation and subjective and social wellbeing among refugee youth in Australia

Zachary E. Buchanan, Hisham M. Abu-Rayya, Emiko Kashima, Susan J. Paxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Australia, the number of refugee youth has increased significantly over the last five years. Australia presents a unique resettlement context for refugees due the country's simultaneous adoption of positive multicultural policies yet hardline immigration laws and negative popular opinion towards refugees. Little is known about the acculturation experiences and wellbeing of refugee youth in Australia. The present study investigated refugee youth's acculturation preferences, measured through the vignettes and bilineal methods, and how these preferences comparatively relate to refugee youth's subjective and social wellbeing. One hundred and six first-generation refugee youth participated in this study. Participants ranged in age from 13 years to 21 years (M=16.82; SD=1.91) and completed self-report questionnaires. Results revealed a strong endorsement of the integration acculturation preference among refugee youth, as measured by both the vignette and bilineal methods. Interestingly, results revealed a positive association between the two underlying acculturation dimensions (ethnic and Australian), which is in contrast to Berry's (1997) original acculturation model which posits that the two dimensions should be independent. This suggests refugee youth may have two primary acculturation options: integration or marginalization. Moreover, results also suggested these acculturation preferences might be differentially related to wellbeing, with integration associated with better social wellbeing and marginalization associated with worse subjective wellbeing. Theoretical and methodological implications of the study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-529
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Acculturation
  • Integration
  • Refugee youth
  • Social wellbeing
  • Subjective wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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