«The third generation of Indians in Britain Cultural identity and cultural change Vorgelegt von: Abgabedatum: 16.10.2008 Judith Frübing 1. Gutachter: ...»
Most of what has been said about ISKCON and Pandava Sena also applies for Sathya Sai Baba although the movement is theologically fundamentally different. In contrast to ISKCON Sathya Sai Baba maintains the worship of a living guru (Nesbitt 2007: 54). Despite being a Hindu sect, all other religions are valued and elements are included. The sect also has a great focus on congregational worship. Further, it focuses on education and study running a Frübing, 44 highly organized educational programme. In the Bal Vikas29, also called Sai Spiritual Education (SSE), children receive a nine-year programme of religious and moral instruction in English. According to Mr. Rajasingam, chairperson of the South London region of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation UK, about 200 children aged 5 to 16 are taught in the Merton Sai Centre. They also take part in the various activities and services of the centre, as do the young people who are part of the Youth Wring. (Sai Mandir, Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation UK , Sai Youth UK ) Having completed the SSE classes, young people aged 16 to 35 continue to meet for study, worship or service. The Youth Wring of the Sathya Sai Movement is much more structured and hierarchical than the Pandava Senas (Sai Mandir, Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation UK, Sai Youth UK). In general, Sathya Sai Baba has a strong system of authority derived from its founder and administered through a number of trusts (Taylor 1987: 119).
The adherence to Sai Baba, who claims to be the incarnation of the universal godhead, and the emotional form of worship have lead many academics to leave the movement (Taylor 1987: 130-131).
2.1.2 Brent youth and the Duke of Edinburgh Award
All twenty respondents (11 boys and 9 girls) of the Brent sample take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The sample mirrors the ethnic composition of the north-west London borough. According to Peter Smith from the Brent Youth Service, some of the young people take part in temple activities though not all of them. Economically most of them are from a well-off background living in the more affluent north of Brent.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a UK-wide voluntary programme of personal development and self-improvement for adolescents. It was created in 1956 and aims to build selfconfidence and self-reliance. Further, “*i+t fosters self-discipline, enterprise and perseverance.” The adolescents are encouraged to help in the community, broaden their skills and engaging in physical recreation. Expeditions into the British country-side are a vital part of the programme. (Homepage of the Duke of Edinburgh Award) According to Peter Smith, who is responsible for the award at the Brent Youth Service, the programme appeals particularly to British Indians because they consider it to be a good and legitimate leisure Frübing, 45 activity. As the programme is character and soft-skill building, participants are welcomed by educators and employers.
2.2 Methodology The research was based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. I believe that both approaches are compatible (Gillespie 1995: 52). While qualitative data offers a detailed picture, quantitative data proves in how far the views of the interviewed teenagers are shared by a wider group of people. Still, questionnaires only provide limited information. They do not give explanations because answers are predefined. Thus, complex and ambiguous feelings cannot be expressed in such narrow categories. Therefore, it was important to accompany the questionnaires with qualitative research (Bhatti 1999: 11). In the interviews complex feelings could be explored and sensitive issues like identity, arranged marriages, racism and race relations could be touched (Ghuman 1994: 47).
The quantitative research was conducted using scales and a short background questionnaire (Appendices 1 and 2). Scaling was inspired by Ghuman’s acculturation scale and Schnell’s methodology. It offered to measure the opinions British Indians have on aspects of Indian
and English culture and identity. Schnell describes ethnicity as consisting of three aspects:
ethnic identity, specific ethnic behaviour and positive valuing of the own group. Of course, the perception of others also plays a role (Schnell 1990: 46). But this aspect had to be left out for reasons of time. Thus, the questionnaire asked for identity, opinions about behaviour, group and foreign values. On the basis of this information it was possible to derive conclusions about the behaviour of young British Indians. Following the German sociologist Max Weber, Schnell states a number of traditional “ethnicity indicators” such as religion, feeling of belonging, contacts to members of the own and other ethnic groups, language, and gender roles. All of these can be subsumed in a series of independent dimensions, namely cultural habits, self-identification, relationship to ethnic minority, desire for ethnic cohesion and perception of discrimination. Language may be considered as a further category (Schell 1990: 47-50).
I combined these dimensions with Ghuman’s acculturation scale. 30 Being a Lickert-type scale, an acculturation index can be counted for each respondent.31 Despite being highly standardized, experience with scales showed that they have a high reliability and validity.
Further, the findings can be easily analysed and compared. (Ghuman 1991: 122, Anderson 1983: 252-255) Frübing, 46 Qualitative data was assembled in semi-structured, problem-centred interviews which I taped (Appendix 3). These interviews have a narrative approach focusing on one topic. The respondent is expected to be a story-teller and on the basis of the stories identity and opinions are revealed following a process of interpretation (Hollway 2000: 31-32). This interview form was most appropriate both for the young respondents and the topics because it follows the principles of daily communication. There was a body of topics and questions scheduled as a skeleton of the interview, but digressions were welcomed and the young people were encouraged to tell what they felt interesting and important. These digressions often produce the most valuable information because in these moments the respondent forgets that he is interviewed. The interviewer is free to leave out or add questions depending on the situation and the respondent. Because interviewer and interviewee are at eye-level, the interview situation is relaxed. This was particularly important because the interviews included sensible topics such as experiences of racism, family and social relationships. Furthermore, such an interview design leaves space for rich and illustrative information. Reliability and honesty can be judged easily because the interviewer gets to know the respondent better than in a closed interview situation (Ghuman 1995: 7, Lamnek 1993: 63). However, semi-structured interviews cannot always be compared. As each interview situation was different, not all interviewees were asked the same questions. Further, the interviews and their analysis are time consuming; for this reason it was not possible to conduct more interviews within the framework of this study.
In addition, four interviews were conducted with community leaders and people working with Indian adolescents. These interviews were spontaneous and not taped. Last but not least, notes were taken on all observances in centres and temples, where I often spend whole days taking part in the proceedings.
2.3 Problems In general, the questionnaires were filled out to my satisfaction. Interestingly, some youngsters complained about certain formulations like “whites” and “blacks”. These were considered as racist by two boys in the Sai Baba sample and also by some youngsters in the Brent sample. Further, boys in the Sai Baba sample commented that they were not Indian but Sri Lankan. The questionnaires were originally designed for British Indian youngsters.
Despite, these complaints about formulations almost all youngsters completed the questionnaires earnestly and interested. I could not prevent them from discussing the topics Frübing, 47 while filling in the scale. This may have influenced some answers. Still, most gave their own opinions although their friend might have written something else.
In the background questionnaires several questions provoked confusions. I have already mentioned the difficulties with the question on parent’s occupations, which aimed to gain information about the social class of the adolescents. Also, the questions on parent’s origins were posed wrongly. So, they did not give the intended information. Instead of asking for the place of birth, I should have asked where the parents grew up. Apart from three fathers and one mother none of the parents were born on Britain. However, from the interviews, the conversations with teenagers outside recorded research and observations in the temples and centres, I found that most parents were educated in Britain. They had come to Europe sometime in their childhood or adolescence.
The interviews posed a number of difficulties and problems. First, semi-structured interviews demand a high degree of confidence between the interviewer and the interviewee. This confidence could not completely build because I was only for a short time at the temples and centres (Ghuman 1991: 8). For this reason the interviews only contained few personal questions. If personal questions were necessary, they were put in the third person. None of the respondents was pressured to respond to any question. However, while girls were open and talkative, there remained to be a barrier with younger boys who probably could not completely confide in me for being a foreign, white and female researcher.
Being a foreigner in the ethnic community, may have limited my access to people and information and may have restricted my facilities in understanding and interpreting the data.
However, being an outsider, I was neutral. I could keep a critical distance to my respondents and their answers because I relied on the literature and my knowledge (Gillespie 1995: 70).
In general, people were very welcoming and enjoyed to explain me rituals, customs and meanings. However, it has to be kept in mind that questions may have been answered differently, if the interviewer was Indian. For instance, all interviewees explained to me traditions and customs when asked on arranged marriages. However, this produced valuable data because it showed whether the youngsters understood their customs and values. Their explanations also reflected their opinions and views.
2.4 The findings 2.4.1 Retention of Indian culture and Hindu religion “…it’s my native thing so yeah for me I wanna keep carry on the tradition.” (Ravanan) All respondents were very proud about their cultural heritage. As quoted in the introduction to this paper, Ranjitham particularly enjoyed her background. Similar answers were given by all respondents. They consider their cultural heritage as normal and enjoy the enrichment through biculturalism. Of the eight interviewed teenagers nobody rejected his or her culture of origin which confirms Mukadam’s observation of the “glass-ceiling” (Mukadam 2006: 119Instead, all are willing to carry their cultural heritage on. In the questionnaires almost all respondents confirmed that they should keep their Indian customs and traditions apart from a very small group which was undecided (Appendix 6.1).
Some teenagers felt more attached to their religion and cultural background than others.
For each respondent an acculturation score could be derived from the questionnaires. The scores of the majority of the respondents oscillated between 10 and -10 with an average of
2.7. This shows that the answers given by the teenagers were equilibrated between acculturation and retention of Indianness. Only few teenagers scored higher than ten: Three girls from the ISKCON sample reached scores between -15 and -17 and one teenager in the Sathya Sai Baba sample scored -17. In contrast, three teenagers in the Brent sample were particularly receptive to acculturation: two of them scored 15 points – a fourteen year-old Muslim girl and an eighteen year old girl, the only respondent who put “none” for religion.
This already hints to the differences in acculturation score averages between the samples.