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Andra generationens invandrare – den transnationelle medborgaren (The second generation immigrant- the transnational Citizen)
In her bachelor‟s thesis, proceeding from an immigrant heritage perspective, Rodrigues (2013) explains resources and problems associated with second generation immigrants. Her focus is second generation immigrants born in Malmo, with two Portuguese born parents recruited to Malmo as labor migrants during 1960-1970. The study is based on semi-structured interviews with six second generation immigrants of Portuguese heritage. In analyzing the result of the study Rodrigues applies the segmented assimilation theory and transnational migration theory. As she maintains “The results of the analysis proved upon extensive transnational ties, providing individual possibilities to various extents, as well as certain disadvantages associated with an immigrant background. How these individuals relate to their immigrant heritage is a matter of accessible resources and position in life” (Rodrigues 2013:1).
Ethnic Identity among Second generation Iranians in the United States
The studies of Iranian migrants and their identity has been limited in the international scientific research, which has resulted in that most of the studies are suggestive rather than definitive on the subject. Different sociological studies have been conducted in the United States regarding the second generation Iranian migrants and how they interact and identify themselves in that specific context. These studies focus on the ethnic identity of the second generation of Iranians and how they relate to their cultural heritage and national identity (Mehdi 1998). The results of these studies show that the second generation Iranians in the U.S. tend to adopt the American lifestyle strongly and develop a unique identity which is different from their parents (ibid). According to Mahdi (1998) the popular approaches to Iranian´s national, cultural or ethnic identity are essential, static, monolithic and idealistic. The notion of the Iranian national identity identifies the historical change in behavior and attitudinal traits of the Iranian population and ignores the multiplicity of values and behaviors. The concept of second generation does not imply any age limit, it is instead focusing on the ages between 11 to 35 years who have either been born in the U.S. or migrated to this country at an early age along with their parents. The identification of identity is, according to Mahdi, defined as a concept of how individuals define themselves in terms of their evaluation with their engagement, commitment to social groups, social culture, national entity and ethnic community. The notion about Iranian identity amongst the second generation Iranians is found to be more symbolic than behavioral. It is considered symbolic because the norms and values representing the Iranian culture are not as easily accessible to the users as they are to their parents. To enhance behavioral access to culture, contacts, practices and use of norms, values and symbols are required. The study of Mahdi (1998) has found that the second generation Iranians in the United States are very individualized and even segmented and hard to categorize. The sense of ethnic identity and community are very mixed in them.
Ethnic identity/national identity and Swedish mentality
Proceeding from the result of my primary data, certain patterns were constructed theoretically. These patterns can be regarded as ideal types (Weber 1904).According to Weber (1904:90): “An ideal type is formed by the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present, and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those one-sidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified thought-construct.” Accordingly, an ideal type is used for understanding the chaos of the social reality. An ideal type neither corresponds to a reality as it is or is not, nor shows all characteristics and elements of a given phenomenon.
Two notions were used to construct the patterns: ethnic identity and Swedish mentality. In addition, the notion of national identity was used to analyze the results.
The notion of ethnic identity was used to understand the affiliation with the dominant features of the Iranian culture and the sense of belonging to the Iranian minority ethnic group. The term Swedish mentality was used to address the second generation Iranians‟ adoption of the dominant Swedish norms and values and ways of thinking and life. The term national identity was chosen to examine the sense of patriotism among this group.
Ethnic identity and National identity
Developing a sense of self is an essential part of the process within which a child becomes a mature person. Each individual‟s understanding of himself or herself is a unique combination of identifying with and feeling part of various groups, such as a religious group, an ethnic community, a nation and/or even a small group such as a sports group. In terms of identifying with a large group, such as an entire nation or an ethnic community, the situation for second- and maybe even third-generation individuals with minority ethnic backgrounds is even more complicated. Members of such groups need to continually negotiate their identification with their ethnic group and with the mainstream culture of the society. They may also negotiate their identification with the nation of the country in which they live and with the nation to which their parents and ancestors belonged. One‟s ethnic identity cannot change during his or her life span, but their national identity can. Identity is an ongoing process driven by a continual contrast between tradition and ritual on the one hand, and individuality and adoption of new norms and values on the other.
Definitions of ethnic identity and national identity vary based on the theoretical understandings that different scholars have of identity and ethnicity and the concepts related to these notions.
An appropriate definition for this study is that of Trimble and Dickson (2005): “ethnic identity is an affiliative construct, where an individual is viewed by themselves and by others as belonging to a particular ethnic or cultural group.” Definitions of national identity, especially in political philosophy, focus on national self-determination. The present study has chosen not to consider the political discussion on national identity.1 Indeed, the study proceeds from the common definition of the notion as found on Wikipedia: “National identity is the person‟s identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one’s citizenship status.”
Social construction of identity and culture
According to the proponents of the social construction theory of identity, there is no objective and independent ”self », but it is shaped in the framework of different relations. Every individual is then created in relation to others and is constantly reconstructed on the basis of to the historical, cultural, and social milieu in which these relationships are embedded. Accordingly, the social constructivists see the others as the main determining factor in the individuals‟ construction of « self » (Stevens 1998: 241-243). Social constructionist theory is based on the idea that our everyday experiences are the consequence of institutional practices or collective social action rather than objective reality. In this sense then, the issues we used to take for granted are not actually objective facts but are the products of human inter-subjectivity (Hacking 1999). Proceeding from the social constructionist theory, we can affirm that categories like nation, ethnicity, or identity do not exist outside of the context of human social behavior; they exist only by virtue of social interactions.
The process of identity construction is, as we see in Erikson (1980) stages of psychological development, a life-span process. Erikson‟s discussion on constructing identity reflects an ongoing construction created as the basis for future meaningful adult life. Identity is developed through life stages (Dowling, 2011). The society we live in, the ethnic group we belong to, the culture within the framework of which we are brought up, are important factors which throughout our life continually construct and reconstruct our identity. When it concerns the ethnic and national identity, it is therefore crucial to take into consideration that these identities are always under construction and reconstruction.
The theory that I found important for my study is then the social construction theory of identity with focus on the role of culture.
Concerning the role of culture in identity construction Hall addresses two different approaches: In the first approach the identity is related to “a shared culture, a sort of collective ‘one true self’, hiding inside the many other, more superficial or artificially imposed ‘selves’, which people with a shared history and ancestry hold in common.” Thus, culturally constructed identities “reflect the common historical experiences and shared cultural codes which provide us, as ‘one people’, with stable, unchanging and continuous frames of reference and meaning, beneath the shifting divisions and vicissitudes of our actual history” (Hall, 1993:224). The second approach “recognises that, as well as the many points of similarity, there are also critical points of deep and significant difference which constitute ‘what we really are’; or rather – since history has intervened – ‘what we have become” (Hall, 1993:225).
The second approach can be applied in studying the immigrant groups which face challenges of living in a cultural setting than the one they have socialized. The questions “what we really are” or what we have become” are crucial in their searching for understanding their identity.
Thus culture has a crucial role in the construction of identity. Ahmadi and Ahmadi (1998) mention, Belief system, value system and a person’s lifestyle are culturally constructed. Every person’s identity is directly dependent on the social structure within which her/his identity is constructed. There is no doubt that the construction of identity is an ongoing process, but here I address the primary and secondary socialization processes during which the individual internalized the basic norms and values of her/his orienteering system.
There is a risk that the well-being of those who have moved not only between countries but also between cultures, is threatened by the lack of a sense of coherence between the social structure of the society they are living in and the social structure within which their identities is constructed (Pinney et al. 2001, Haeri Darya 2007).
The tension between the dominant culture of surrounding society and the culture that they had internalized threatens people’s perception of wholeness and inner integrity. Contact with a new society and its specific belief system and lifestyle needs – when cultural distance is great – a reconstruction of identity. Where there is a huge gap between a person’s culture of origin and the new cultural environment, such a reconstruction of identity results in a cancellation of the basic value system, i.e. a state of anomaly which means, among others, a rupture between the past and the present reality (Ahmadi & Ahmadi, 1998).
Table of contents :
1.1 AIM OF THE STUDY
1.2. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.3. RELEVANCE FOR SOCIAL WORK
1.4 DEFINITION OF IMPORTANT CONCEPTS
1.5 ESSAYS DISPOSITION
2. PREVIOUS RESEARCH
3. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
3.1. ETHNIC IDENTITY/NATIONAL IDENTITY, SWEDISH MENTALITY
3.2. SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY AND CULTURE
3.3. EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
4.1 PRELIMINARY UNDERESTANDING
4.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.2.1. MY PRIMARY DATA COLLECTION
4.2.2. SECONDARY DATA
4.3.1. SAMPLING, MY STUDY
4.3.2. SAMPLING, SECONDARY DATA
4.4..TOOLS OF ANLYSIS
4.5 ESSAY CREDIBILITY
4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
5. RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
5.1 ETHNIC/NATIONAL IDENTITY AND SWEDISH MENTALITY
5.COMPARISION BETWEEN THE SECOND GENERATION IRANIANS IN SWEDEN AND IN THE UNITED STATES
5.3. EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
6.1. DISCUSSION OF RESULT IN RELATION TO AIM , RESEARCH QUESTION AND PREVIOUS RESEARCH
6.2. THE MAIN THEORETICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE FINDINGS
6.3. DISCUSSION OF METHOD
6.3 SUGGESTION FOR FUTURE RESEARCH