Polycultural capital and the Pasifika second generation : negotiating identities in diasporic spaces : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
This research examines the ways in which the Pasifika second generation who have
grown up in Aotearoa are operating culturally and explores the conditions in which
they construct identities. The study took a positive deviance approach focusing on
existing strengths within the Pasifika generation and learning from success.
Taking a sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach, the project analysed data
from the Youth2000 Survey, which included over one thousand Pasifika participants
(n=1114). This showed that pride in Pasifika identities, reporting that Pasifika values
were still important, feeling accepted by other people within one’s own ethnic group
and outside it, and continuing to speak Pasifika languages were all associated
positively with advantageous health, educational or wellbeing variables. Individual
interviews with fourteen high-achieving, second generation Pasifika professionals,
further explored connections between identity, acceptance and belonging.
Second generation participants talked about performing identities across many spaces
of symbolic interaction where they were called into relation with multiple others.
These were local, cross-cultural, national and transnational relational spaces made
possible via migration, diaspora, and relocation resulting in complex negotiations of
sameness and difference. In these spaces they encountered competing narratives about
who Pasifika peoples ought to be.
The diasporic second generation often had to negotiate belonging from beyond the
limits of what was validated as having most symbolic authority. Symbolic struggle
and the politics of cultural reproduction came to the fore, as did the contested nature of
Pasifika imaginaries. Identifications were further complicated by demands for crosscultural
coherence and legibility across spaces, and shifting politics of recognition.
Polycultural capital was coined to describe the ability to accumulate culturally diverse
symbolic resources, negotiate between them and strategically deploy different cultural
resources in contextually specific and advantageous ways. Performing strategic
essentialism, strategic ignorance, strategic hybridity, dialogic distance, and bridging,
were just some of the patterns identified. Manulua describes an aesthetic of shifting
multidimensional cultural resolutions across many spaces in-between.