Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Behavioral Problems of Adolescents from Returned Portuguese Immigrant Families

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Behavioral Problems of Adolescents from Returned Portuguese Immigrant Families

Article excerpt

Given the ethnic diversity in our world today, the concept of acculturation has become increasingly important. Acculturation is the phenomenon of attitudinal, value, and behavioral changes of individuals who come into continuous contact with another culture (Redfield, Linton & Herskovits, 1936). The criterion for acculturation is the presence of bicultural influences, regardless of the relative strengths of the two cultures. Thus, one possible scenario is in an immigrant setting, where a person migrates into another culture. Another possible scenario is in a society of origin setting, where a migrant returns. Although there is a growing body of research on acculturation in immigrant settings, society-of-origin settings have not received much research attention (Martin, 1984; Tamura & Furnham, 1993; Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001).

In this paper we seek to deepen understanding of return migration by undertaking an analysis of behavioral problems among Portuguese adolescents with immigrant families returned from France. Adaptation, varying from well-adapted to maladapted, is the long term outcome of psychological acculturation (Berry, 1997). Ward and colleagues have distinguished between two components of adaptation. Psychological adaptation refers to psychological well-being or good mental health and satisfaction in a new cultural context, whereas sociocultural adaptation relates to learning new social skills to interact within the new culture, dealing with daily problems of living, and effective carrying out of tasks (Ward et al., 2001). In this study, we will examine failed attempts at one kind of sociocultural adaptation: behavioral problems.

In France there is a considerably dense Portuguese community (Neto & Mullet, 1998). Although this community in France has assumed relative importance since the end of the 1st world war, the great migratory flux started in the 60's. In 1963 the legal exits to France overtook those to Brazil (15,223 against 11,281), marking the end of a long standing tendency that had continued for a few centuries.

The purpose of this investigation was two-fold. The first objective was to examine whether an immigrant background had an effect on behavioral problems. For Phinney and Alipuria (1996), one basic question about bicultural individuals is whether they are confused outsiders or special individuals with a broader understanding. The "marginal man" conceptualization (Park, 1950; Stonequist, 1961) is still guiding research. Park's view was that, with migration and the loosening of bonds to his original culture, the marginal man - a person at the edge of two cultures - becomes "the individual with the keener intelligence, the wider horizon, the more detached and rational viewpoint" (Park, 1950, pp. 375-376). In contrast, Stonequist (1961) viewed the marginal man as a person caught between two cultures, never fitting in.

Until recently, the dominant western view of the multiethnic person was consistent with that of Stonequist. Multiethnic people have been portrayed as troubled and anxious outsiders who lack a clear identity. However, the results of recent empirical research have indicated that multiethnic individuals are at no psychological disadvantage in comparison to monoethnic individuals (Neto & Barros, 2007; Phinney & Alipuria, 1996; Sam & Virta, 2003). In the present study I will present research comparing one indicator of sociocultural adaptation, behavioral problems of adolescents from returned Portuguese immigrant families and young Portuguese living in the same country without migratory experience. Although several studies have suggested that immigrant and other ethnic youth are overrepresented in official crime statistics (e.g., Hofer & Tam, 1991), the use of self-reported delinquency suggests otherwise (Junger-Tas, Terlouw, & Klein, 1994). These studies indicate that immigrant youth either do not differ from their national peers or when they do differ, they often report lower levels of delinquency. …

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