Essay Perceptions Belonging

Perceptions of belonging and not belonging can be influenced by people’s identity and place where they feel they belong or not belong. Belonging is felt by an individual when they are able to gain an understanding of themselves in relation to others. We see this in Strictly Ballroom by Baz Lurhmann and Neighbours by Tim Winton; both show belonging and not belonging and find their own sense of identity where they all feel they belong in one place.

In Strictly Ballroom we see two sides of the dance world that is juxtaposed to the artificial fake world and the non-artificial fake world for eg. Shirley Hastings wears dark bright makeup and bright sparkly clothes to fit in with the artificial fake dance world. Whereas the non-artificial fake world is very dull and ‘daggy’, this is an example of Fran who wears big bold glasses and big white daggy t-shirts this makes Fran feel like she doesn’t belong.

This is because she isn’t the same as everyone else and is treated differently because she is known as a beginner and is told that she would never make it in the dance world with her steps. Fran feels more like she belongs when she is dancing the Paso Doble with her family because she is surrounded around her family that make her feels like she belongs dancing with Scott.

The opening scene begins with a red curtain in the background, which opens to the title of the film with flashing stars to automatically show the audience what the dance world is like. The colour red represents love for example when Scott and Fran are dancing on the rooftop next to the coca-cola sign, shows that they are in ‘the moment’, and shows the connection that they have built together.

According to Barry Fife, ‘You are one to belong in the dance world, you dance his steps and wear the dramatic clothing or you are not considered to live in the dance federation.’

These three examples show that belonging or not belonging can be influenced to places in Strictly Ballroom.

Like Strictly Ballroom the short story Neighbours by Tim Winton also looks at how perceptions of belonging or not belonging can be influenced by places. The multicultural neighbourhood at the start of the short story shows that the Anglo-couple felt isolated and separated from everyone, feeling ‘like sojourners in a foreign land’. The words used in the short story ‘The sounds of spitting and washing and daybreak watering came as a shock, the Macedonian family shouted, ranted and screamed.’

This shows that the couple’s perceptions about their neighbours were misinformed because as time progresses, the kindness, interest and willingness to help shows otherwise. When after some time they have shared the growing of the vegetables, backyard feasts and finally the celebration of their newborn child with their neighbours, the couple realise they were wrong in their judgements. By this stage, they realise their common humanity and have established a sense of belonging with their multi-cultural neighbours.

Throughout this essay we have seen in both Strictly Ballroom and Neighbours they explore how perceptions of belonging and not belonging can be influenced to places by the themes used in Strictly Ballroom such as the contrast between the artificial fake world and the non-artificial fake world, the colour of red represents love and one to belong according to Barry Fife. Through the themes of Neighbours used such as the use of ‘no names’ for characters, and when the young couple have a baby it represents a ‘new life’. All these themes show how people belong or not belong and find their own sense of identity and place in the end.

Still have no idea what a thesis statement is? Take inspiration from these sample thesis statements for belonging essays.

All of these thesis statements can be used as starting points for arguments about belonging!


  • Our life experiences teach us that when we stop trying to belong we realise that we have always belonged
  • We search for a place to belong, not realising that it is our perceptions and attitudes, not the place that allow us to belong

Notions of identity

  • When our cultural identity is marginalised, we can feel dislocated and displaced, and believe that we do not belong to our culture or the dominant culture.
  • Our search for who we are is fuelled by a need to find a place in the world where we belong
  • A sense of belonging comes from a sense of identity


  • The need to belong to a group or a community shapes our behaviour, attitudes and actions
  • An individual has the potential to damage relationships and ensure that others do not belong
  • When humanity experiences a strong connection to a place, the notion of belonging is strengthened and enriched
  • When our relationship with a place is shaped by a narrow and biased view of the world, our notion of belonging can be questionable


  • The basic human need to be accepted and belong can cloud our judgments and direct our actions


  • When we begin to understand the forces that drive us to belong, we develop empathy for others and personal insight

McPherson, D and Sherlock, J et all, 2010, Oxford HSC English, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.


  • A sense of belonging can emerge from the connections made with people, places and the larger world. It is these connections that influence where we search for meaning in our lives and ultimately, where we belong
  • We belong when we feel connected to others and the world

Inner Belonging

  • Belonging comes from within rather than without
  • An inner sense of connection leads to an external sense of belonging
  • Feeling connected to the world is an inner experience
  • The desire to belong is a driving force within us
  • A sense of belonging begins instinsically and spreads out into the world
  • We cannot belong until we understand ourselves-An inner sense of balance allows the individual to belong harmoniously in the world


These statements are a great starting point but in order to write a great essay you will have to learn how to research and analyse your texts effectively as well as write a good introduction, body and conclusion. The entire process is covered in our simple guidebook the Band 6 Formula.




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