Stress and the 'Navigation of Multiple Worlds': Experiences of Immigrant Youth in Victoria

Sarah Fletcher


Moving beyond the negative conceptualizations of stress and acculturative stress that dominate the literature, this paper will draw on interview and photovoice material from the Navigating Multiple Worlds project to explore stress as a narrative idiom, looking at the meanings of ‘stress,’ the many ways that stress can be experienced and how it can influence the ways of being in the world for immigrant youth. Rather than looking at stress as something that can be quantitatively measured, our analysis revealed that youth were talking about stress in a number of ways. This paper presents examples of stress discussed in terms of physical reactions and bodily experiences, the spatial and temporal dimensions of stress, and the importance of ‘everyday stresses’ in the lives of immigrant youth. Our participatory process, mixed methods design and focus on youth voices allowed us to explore stress as a narrative idiom, and ultimately its use as an idiom of resilience as well as distress. The potential for future research, taking an ethnographic approach to the study of stress, as a narrative tool, is highlighted.

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