«The third generation of Indians in Britain Cultural identity and cultural change Vorgelegt von: Abgabedatum: 16.10.2008 Judith Frübing 1. Gutachter: ...»
However, even those more traditionally orientated teenagers were in favour of certain adaptations. Therefore, cultural change was particularly evident in marital and gender issues. These customs choke with norms and values of western culture which the young people have adapted: equal treatment of men and woman and personal freedom of choice.
Consequently, customs are appropriated and changed but do not get lost. Nobody completely rejects Indian culture as my findings confirm Mukadam’s “glass-ceiling” thesis.
Therefore, loss of cultural aspects is not evident. Only caste appears to loose more and more significance in the third generation because the youngsters are no longer willing to put their personal interests behind a form of social organization which makes no meaning to them.
Still, they maintain caste awareness; and numerous organizations, temples and communities based on caste belongingness continue in Britain.
In general, Indian cultural aspects are known, understood and practiced in the third generation. If they do not fit into life in the West, they are changed or slight adaptations are made. This shows that the third generation of Indians in Britain does not take only “bits and Frübing, 99 pieces” from their heritage culture but is living Indian culture in a western setting. In this process they also create their own articulations which are characterized by a proud expression of Indianness and Indian heritage. These articulations are different from those of the second generation who concentrated on “bridging-the-gap”. Now however, the young generation is focusing on the expression of retention, adherence and maintenance of Indian heritage culture – an expression of difference. It may be argued that in today’s world of communication and globalization which mixes and hybridizes cultures continuously people are looking for strong and unequivocal markers of identity and difference. But, neither the articulations of their grandparents nor these of their parents are valid for the third generation. First, they lack their grandparent’s sense of dislocation and second they do not feel their parent’s in-betweeness and “cultural clash.” Instead, they are able to underline their difference while taking Britishness for granted. This is also possible thanks to an image of Britishness which their predecessors worked hard to revise. Britishness is now accepted to be black or brown as well as white.
Cultural change depends on the amount of exchange and interaction between cultural and ethnic communities. Though the third generation enjoys being close to their own ethnic community, they show no intention to close themselves against mixture. Especially in London young British Indians grow up in an multicultural environment. Further, the young people revealed the cosmopolitan state of mind described by Gillespie (Gillespie: 1995: 21Hence, objections to interethnic marriage and ethnic mixture are declining; this tendency is particularly strong among those who are not affiliated closely to a religious sect.
However, significant distinctions are made concerning the ethnic groups. Here prejudice against blacks became evident as a consequence of socioeconomic developments and surviving imperial ideologies. In this process, exclusions and inclusions as strategic boundaries are used in order to present the own ethnic group in a good position. In the diaspora Indians are subjected to the burden of representation. For this reason also the young Indians who took part in the study were permanently concerned with their ethnic group’s representation.
Despite singular “assimilist” tendencies revealed by some as consequences of ideals of hard work and discipline, the majority has overcome mimicry and maintains pride in Indianness.
Still, Stopes-Roe rightly claims that the second-generation’s alienation and criticism is a step towards less reliance on the ethnic community (Stopes-Roe 1991: 135). Such a step is important for integration as well as for the individual identity and freedom. The critical view Frübing, 100 of the second generation helps to overcome nostalgia and thus enables cultural change. This in turn helps the third generation to reconcentrate on their roots.
Lacking serious conflicts and contradictions both in the family as well as psychologically the third generation can live and enjoy their Indianness as much as their Britishness. Here Gillespie’s comment on the consequences of pressures is right. She argues that pressures to retain Indian values and norms in the second generation rather lead to rejection of Indianness and to westernization. In contrast to the second generation the third generation experiences much less pressure to stick to Indian values and norms. Parents, grandparents and community leaders have learned to accept cultural change and compromise particularly in the most conflicting fields of gender relations, marriage and courtship. Hence, the third generation can more easily combine the two cultures and lives.
However, it has to be kept in mind that the young people who took part in this study are well-situated. Middle class parents are generally less strict for often being more educated.
Further, the youngsters do not spent so much time in the streets. They are occupied with studying and other hobbies or additional courses. Their status and social environment protects them from discrimination which is worsened by double exclusion among lowerclass children of ethnic minorities. Further, the findings of this study would certainly have differed if the sample had been taken in other Indian sub-ethnic groups. Hence, the study cannot represent the whole British Indian youth.
In conclusion, the “three-generation-assimilation-cycle” and my derivations from the literature on the second generation have been proved wrong by the case study. There are no signs that the third generation will give up its heritage culture and assimilate to Britishness.
Rather, the opposite has turned out to be the case. The strength and persistence of ethnic and diasporic affiliations must be confirmed. Consequently, my findings generally validate Hansen’s theory described in “The Problem of the Third Generation Immigrant”. The young British Indians do not loose their culture and identity. Hansen explains that while the second generation tries to assimilate because of the will to overcome their difference, the youngsters in the third generation have new opportunities and forces. They do not suffer the “clash of cultures” and are well integrated into the majority culture, thus they can revive their culture of origin. Hence, third generation adolescents take an increased interest in their
grandparents’ culture and history. Hansen states the following as a universal phenomenon:
“What the son wishes to forget the grandson wishes to remember.” (Hansen 1938: 9) This Frübing, 101 has been observed among the third generation of British Indians as well. In contrast to the second generation the third generation has no reason to feel inferior because differences and disadvantages like language or citizenship have been overcome. People in the third generation are no longer considered to be an immigrant as they are completely integrated into the society. On the basis of that rise in equality it is possible for the third generation to take interest and pride in their heritage. This leads to a “renaissance of sentiment” concerning their heritage and origin which functions as a binding factor for the ethnic community (Hansen 1938: 10, 12).
In general, my findings confirm Hansen’s theory showing that his principles are still valid after sixty years of time as well as in a different ethnic and cultural environment. It is true that the lack of cultural conflict, more opportunities as well as strength and pride in the own group connected with a high degree of structural integration allows the third generation to feel positive about Indianness. On the one hand, it is true that this revives the ethnic community and its culture and future as Hansen states (Hansen 1938: 10, 12). On the other hand in today’s complex postmodern world in which clear social categories are increasingly overcome, I cannot fully agree with Hansen on that matter. Though it is true that interest in Indian culture is growing and core values and norms are maintained by the majority, there is a growing diversity in opinions and lifestyles among British Indian teenagers, today. The comparison of the two samples revealed the differences between British Indian youngsters in the third generation. This diversity is growing because the Indian youth increasingly separates itself along lines of taste and cultural preferences (Werbner 1997: 1). While some teenagers prefer to spent their time in the temple others rather go to pubs or clubs. These new differentiations cross traditional ethnic divisions. Further, as indicated above the interest of the third generation depends very much on a number of other social factors such as social status and tolerance of the wider society (Archdeacon 1990: 54-58). Thus, there are certain limitations to Hansen’s theory (Weber 1991: 322). The postmodern society is too complex to be pressed in simplified laws.
Therefore, Mukadam’s acculturation types prove to be very helpful. Some young people adhere strongly to Indianness while rejecting many aspects of western culture. Others, as I was told, do not care about Indianness at all. However, in this study there was nobody who completely negated Indian culture. Even the few respondents who showed no interest in religion voted towards Indianness on other matters such as language or family relations.
There appears to be a limit to cultural assimilation. In general, the majority enjoys aspects of Frübing, 102 both cultures and has a very balanced mixture of Indian and English habits, values and norms. The prevalent tendency to cultural mixture or hybridity proves that there is no need for the young people to decide on either of the two. They manage to overcome conflicts and contrasts and live comfortably with both cultures. They can affirm difference and hybridity.
As a consequence of the development of such communities of taste, diversity and complexity grow in the third generation.
At last, it is necessary to find an appropriate terminology. The young people must be distinguished from their parent’s and grandparent’s generations. The third generation’s multiculturalism, pluralism and their new ways of diaspora and ethnicity need to be acknowledged by proper terms. However, these are lacking so that one has to stick to old and often morally charged concepts like Indian, British, English or minority and majority (Mukadam 2006: 105, 108). It is necessary to overcome terminologies which put people in certain categories entirely based on ethnicity and cultural difference. Such categories can not acknowledge diversity, hybridity and cultural change which are evident in the third generation.
Unfortunately, many questions and issues the research provoked remain unanswered for reasons of time and space. As the Indian presence in Britain grows and India and the Indian diaspora are becoming more and more influential in world politics and economics, this topic is becoming increasingly important. This work tried to understand the relations between generation and integration as well as between culture and identity. As the various diasporas around the world and particularly in Europe are growing into the third and fourth generations such topics become increasingly significant. The study has proved that diasporic cultures of the 21st century survive over generations. The third generation’s interest and engagement in cultural heritage is not a short-term politicized reaction. On the contrary, in the third generation the Indian diaspora has managed to settle down in the British society.
They are well organized and feel at home in western structures maintaining their culture without constant conflicts with the hegemonic western Anglo-Saxon culture. Thus, the third generation of Indians in Britain is well integrated in the multicultural society and enjoys hybrid lives underlining their difference. The grandchildren of the Indian immigrants display a post-diasporic diversity retaining Indian culture in Britain.