Doctoral Completions

Dr Toni McCallum

Degree awarded:        PhD

Date awarded:            28th May 2018

Title of dissertation:   (M)other Love: Cultural Difference and Gendered Practices in Queensland, Australia

University: University of Newcastle, Humanities and Social Science

Supervisors:    Dr Ann Taylor & Dr Daniela Heil


This thesis seeks to extend existing understandings of mothering practices, behaviours and beliefs in contemporary Australia; the research provides an account of the meanings a culturally diverse group of women and men drawn from different class backgrounds ascribe to their ‘mothering’ practices. Samoan and Burundian mothers and working-class mothers living in Logan; privileged, White, middle-class mothers living in Ascot; and stay-at-home fathers, drawn from across the Brisbane region describe, in their own words, their lived experience of mothering.

The findings show that in the Logan community, mothering and ‘othermothering’ are prevalent in Samoan, Burundian and working-class families and function as a kind of social citizenship: obligation and duty are the main underpinnings of this mothering work and women define themselves through others in this work.

By contrast the White, privileged mothers of Ascot practise an upper-middle class form of ‘intensive mothering’. The Ascot stay-at-home mothers show evidence of a “re-traditionalisation” of their gendered role as mother and wife within their marriages in terms of taking primary responsibility for raising children and running their households.

The findings from the research into stay-at-home fathers asks whether men ‘mother?’, and the findings demonstrate the ways in which men build gendered constructions of their stay-at-home father identity. Men argued that this identity is undervalued and stigmatised.

Enqi Weng       

Degree awarded:        PhD

Date awarded:            12 December 2018

Title of dissertation: Religion and the Secular Sacred in the Australian Public Sphere: A Media Analysis of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Q&A Program

University: RMIT University, School of Media & Communications

Supervisors: Professor Peter Horsfield, Associate Professor Chris Hudson, Dr Alex Wake


Up until the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, before religion was thrust into the public gaze, religion has received little attention in the media and academia. This lack of attention given to religion was because of a particular view of secularisation that believed religion will decline in social relevance. Since the attack, however, religion has become embroiled in discussions related to terrorism, politics, security and gender.  While religion has received significant coverage in news media, Australian Census data continue to demonstrate that the nation’s main religion, Christianity, is on the decline. Concurrently, research has persistently reported mixed understandings about beliefs and attitudes towards religion in the nation.

This thesis suggests that the above contradiction is present because of a limited understanding about religion. It considers that religion needed to be examined from a broader sociological perspective. This was informed by a new and recent sociological consideration of the sacred as a non-negotiable value present in religious and secular forms. Recently, scholars of religion have argued that religion needs to be examined in its mediated articulations.

A broadened approach was taken towards the definition of religion and where religion is viewed as a spectrum. This thesis examined religious changes in Australia through a study of sociocultural discussions on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Q&A television discussion program using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Findings show that certain perspectives about religion frequently emerged on the program, where religion was predominantly perceived through specific interpretations of Christianity and defined by certain gender, class and religious associations. Evidences of inter- and intra-religious diversity were present but more subtly embedded within discussions.

Reyvi Marinas

Degree awarded:        PhD

Date awarded:            21 January 2019

Title of dissertation:   Conscious Citizenship: The Political Activism of the Filipino Diaspora in Australia Through the Lens of Hannah Arendt

University:                  Monash University, Law

Supervisors:    Professor Susan Kneebone and Dr Michael Janover


The thesis explores an alternative way of looking at the idea and practice of citizenship from the point of view of a migrant group’s collective consciousness and activism within its diaspora. I call this type of citizenship a ‘conscious citizenship’, which is about becoming politically conscious and engaged in the political community. Being conscious citizens entails contestation and resistance against the neoliberal policies of the sending and receiving states at a transnational level. It also involves group solidarity and collective action that transform the individual to become part of a collective political community.

In the thesis, I utilise Hannah Arendt’s body of work and theories, especially her concept of the ‘conscious pariah’ (the rebel hero) to investigate the political activism of Migrante Australia, a Filipino migrant grassroots organisation in Australia. I argue that an Arendtian approach is the most suitable theoretical framework for this thesis because of Migrante’s method of activism, which demonstrates the pariah’s rebellious character in contesting the state’s neoliberal policies. To test my hypothesis, I employ qualitative methods to gather data from my informants, using in-depth semi-structured interviews and ethnographic observations. I explore three general questions regarding Migrante’s activism: political participation and practices; political views and awareness; and the significance of Filipino collective identity in the diaspora.

In exploring these questions, the thesis discovers several key themes that emerge from the data of the interviews and field observations. First, Migrante’s transnational activism is unique in that its counter-hegemonic political engagement, which is different from that of other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups, transcends migrant and social justice issues on a transnational level, effecting changes both in its homeland and in its diaspora.

Second, Migrante’s particular style of activism, known as ‘step-by-step organising’, is important in raising the political consciousness of its members as a way of sustaining a deeper level of political awareness and involvement in the wider community. It reveals why Filipino culture and community spirit are important facets of Filipino migrants’ lived experience and how this group experience can become a rallying point for the political activism of Filipinos abroad.

Finally, the thesis illustrates how the cultural-community aspect of political action paves the way for the emergence of a new Filipino collective identity in Australia which is based on personal agency, political awareness and positive emotional attachment to group collectivities. It concludes by recognising two significant implications of this new collective identity, which I dub ‘movement identity’, in Australia: first, it points to the emerging ‘micro-collective’ identity of Migrante as a subgroup of Filipino diasporans in Australia; and, second, it depicts the transformation of collective identity from ‘being Filipino’ (having a sense of ‘who we are’) to ‘becoming political’ (having a sense of ‘what we have become’), which shows the true essence of conscious citizenship.

Jessica Botfield

Degree awarded:        PhD

Date awarded:            February, 2019

Title of dissertation:   Engaging young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds with sexual and reproductive health care

University:                  UNSW, Sydney, School of Social Sciences

Supervisors:               Professor Anthony Zwi, Associate Professor Christy Newman


Young people who identify with a minority cultural and/or language background may be at heightened risk of poor sexual and reproductive health and have limited engagement with sexual and reproductive healthcare. Whilst there is increasing recognition of this issue in Australia, little empirical research has explored the views and experiences of migrant and refugee young people in relation to this. To address this gap, interviews with migrant and refugee young people (n = 27) and ‘professional’ key informants (n = 34) were undertaken. Young people participated in first interviews (n = 27), follow-up interviews (n= 9) and walking interviews (n=6, with a total of 15 walking interviews). Despite being from diverse cultural and language backgrounds, the young people who participated were more similar than different regarding their views and experiences with information and services for sexual and reproductive health. They described a persistent taboo among family and community in relation to sexuality and sexual health. Most were unaware of the different services available for supporting young people in pursuing sexual and reproductive health. The option of seeing a ‘specialised’ service for this aspect of health appealed to many, as these were perceived to be more confidential and non-judgemental than general practitioners or ‘family’ doctors. Findings highlight the complexities of designing effective healthcare systems that incorporate the varied experiences and backgrounds of young people, and the importance of reaching diverse populations with sexual and reproductive health promotion and care. Findings could contribute to enhancing policy and practice approaches to engaging diverse young people with sexual and reproductive health care in Sydney and similar metropolitan settings. There is an important opportunity for ‘specialised’ sexual and reproductive health services and general practitioners to better engage migrant and refugee young people and ensure provision of welcoming and inclusive services.

Share Button