Immigration, Stress, and Readjustment

Immigration, Stress, and Readjustment

Immigration, Stress, and Readjustment

Immigration, Stress, and Readjustment

Synopsis

Migration nowadays is a universal phenomenon often instigating extreme changes in the entire life cycle of the immigrants. Occasionally, immigration is liable to impose a certain degree of change also on the life of the absorbing society at large or of substantial sectors of it. Professor Ben-Sira, a world figure in medical sociology, advances the understanding of the factors that promote or impede readjustment of immigrants and of members of the absorbing society who may feel affected by that immigration. The author surveyed 500 new immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union, as well as 900 members of the absorbing society in order to understand the process of immigration and integration. This book not only contributes to the understanding of the factors explaining readjustment in the wake of immigration, but also provides insights with respect to the relationship between life-change and stress.

Excerpt

Zeev Ben-Sira was a man who did not waste time. He began academic work about twenty-five years ago, after completing a distinguished career in the army. The day after becoming a civilian, he started on the dissertation that would make him a medical sociologist, and he never stopped. Even though we know better, we like to romanticize the inspiration that characterizes the work of artists and scholars; but we all know that the best of them fix time for their work. For the twenty-five years of his affiliation with the Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research and membership in its Executive Committee, Zeev was the very model of how not to waste time, how to harness time for creativity.

Ben-Sira led a life of work that adds up, that fits together. This is no small achievement, I should add, since one of the rules of work at an institute for applied social research--as distinct from a university--is to address the problems that are brought to you by others, not just those you choose for yourself. How one weaves these strands together--whether one leads one or two lives, as a pure or applied scientist--is the mark of the man. Without ever saying no to a project that came to his desk from outside, Zeev managed to subsume most of these under the umbrella of his overarching concern with problems of coping with stress. His location at the Institute gave him empirical access to the real lives against which to examine and develop the theories he shared with his colleagues in the sociology of medicine--especially Aaron Antonovsky--and to conceptualize them in the forms developed by Louis Guttman and his disciples. These were the golden years of the Guttman Institute; Zeev made the most of them and gave the best of himself in return.

Reading and rereading his work, I prefer to think of Zeev as a sociologist of social problems to which he applied the functional models of disease taken from medical sociology. From this point of view, all problems, no matter how . . .

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