More than 80% of Australia’s Greek migrant population arrived and settled before the 1980’s. As such, most first-generation Greeks are well established in Australia, familiar with the culture and relatively elderly. It is therefore important to note that those who have been settled and acculturated to Australia for years are not as likely to absolutely represent the average native Greek described in the following overview. Nevertheless, there is still value in understanding modern-day Greek cultural concepts as a way of informing future observations.
An association is often made between Greek culture and the famous philosophers and thinkers of ancient Greece. Though this is an outdated representation of modern-day Greece, Greek culture still strongly values rational debate and thoughtful reflection. Intellect is greatly admired and often a determiner of social status. Decisions based on reason are highly respected by society, and healthy rational argument is enjoyed. As such, the Greeks are passionate and animated debaters. They often like to test their intelligence by attempting to persuade others with strongly held opinions. In so doing, they often creatively draw upon knowledge of a wide variety of subjects to make their case. Primarily, the aim of any discussion is to reach a pragmatic conclusion.
However, to fully understand the Greek communication style, one must appreciate their love for discussion. Kefi refers to the contentment, bliss and joy one feels when a moment is so overwhelmingly enjoyable they are transported by it. The Greeks recognise kefi often arising when good conversation with good company becomes particularly delighting and fulfilling, and so Greeks often enter or initiate discussion hoping it will stimulate them and achieve kefi. Thus, discourse has two purposes in Greece: rational results and also pleasure.
Greece is a collectivist society in the sense that there is strong loyalty shown to familial and social 'groups'. However, this does not really translate into allegiance for broader organisational and national groups. The social life of many Greeks is usually kept to a close circle of family and friends. Society is not tightly organised and schedules are not closely followed. Instead, Greeks tend to structure their lives around the immediate social relationships important to them. Daily activity is approached at an easier pace and more time is devoted to personal interactions. This means that Greek culture has a relaxed feel to it, characteristic of the Mediterranean region and climate. Time isn’t ‘used’, but ‘passed’. For example, siestas (day naps) are a regular part of many people’s days.
Social and civil behaviour in Greece is often deeply influenced by the concept of philotimo. Directly translating into ‘love of honour’, philotimo is essentially a heartfelt drive to do the right thing. It is informed by an awareness of the demeanour, responsibility and duty that is expected of a person by Greek society and their peers. By exhibiting public decorum and applying the proper behaviour in a wide variety of situations a Greek gains esteem in the community. This is a source of status, pride, dignity and honour. Philotimo can also be seen as an influence behind the cultural focus on hospitality and courtesy.
Honour/philotimo is especially visible in the behaviour of Greek men. Many feel it is their responsibility to be the provider and breadwinner for their family, as society is still quite patriarchal. Not meeting the macho ideal of a ‘family man’ is sometimes seen as emasculating. There is also social pressure on Greeks to present their family name in a good light. It is not uncommon to hear Greeks publicly praising their family’s dignity and integrity by pointing out their achievements and positive qualities.
Generally, Greeks are incredibly generous, charismatic and animated people. They can strike Australians as having quite firm and assertive personalities as they may make less use of humour and laughter in the initial stages of meeting people. However, though first impressions may make them seem overly serious or strident, they are rarely uptight. Greece has a largely relaxed, warm, people-focused culture.
Population11,128,4040.15% of World Population
LanguagesGreek (official) (99%)Other (1%)
ReligionsGreek Orthodox Christianity (98%)Islam (1.3%)Other (0.7%)
EthnicitiesGreek (93%)Other (7%)
Power Distance 60 Individualism 35 Masculinity 57 Uncertainty Avoidance 100 Long Term Orientation 45 Indulgence 50 What's this?
Australians with Greek Ancestry378,270
Greeks in Australia
GenderMales (48.8%)Females (51.2%)
ReligionEastern Orthodox Christianity (93.4%)No Religion (1.7%)Jehovah's Witness (0.7%)Other (2.7%)
AncestryGreek (91.3%)Macedonian (3.3%)English (0.7%)Other (2.2%)
LanguagesGreek (88.0%)English (7.4%)Macedonian (3.0%)Other (1.2%)
English ProficiencyWell (63.8%)Not Well (35.2%)
DiasporaVictoria (50%)New South Wales (31.6%)South Australia (9.8%)Queensland (3.4%)
Arrival to AustraliaPrior to 2001 (93.1%)2001-2006 (0.8%)2007-2011 (1.1%)