Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Intergenerative Conflicts and Health Hazards in Migrant Families

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Intergenerative Conflicts and Health Hazards in Migrant Families

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In the beginning of the sociology of migration - it has been pointed out - that migration is a special occasion of life - because in an all-embracing way - it changes all aspects of the migrants' lives and demands high converting capacities. It is this assumption which is underlying the thesis of the "culture shock" caused by migration. Accordingly, the beginning of the integration processes can be characterized as an "anomic situation" for the immigrants themselves as well as for the members of the receiving society (Hoffmann-Nowotny, 1970, 1973). But, different studies on the integration of migrants have shown that the conflicts of the integration process vary both concerning their intensity and duration between different integration contexts, historical periods, and nationalities of immigrants. This means that migration does not automatically result in a "culture shock" or an "anomic situation".

By attempting to explain potential conflicts caused by migration, sociology hence named a number of social structural conditions which modify the integration process and the conflict potential. It is deferred on that the course of the integration process strongly depends on the action possibilities which are offered by the particular affiliation context: if the opportunities of structural integration on the labour market are limited due to intensive competition, as it may be the result of already existing immigration, the integration process will be delayed and will proceed with more conflicts than in an open receiving context (Esser, 1985). Following this argumentation, it is assumed that in contrast to the integration process of subsequent waves of immigrants the integration process of the first immigrant groups may take a peaceful course. This is especially true if different waves of immigration can be easily identified as belonging to different nationalities and if the subsequent immigrant groups show a bigger "cultural distance" to the receiving society than the earlier ones. Then, the competitive threat on the labour market is an "ethnic" conflict and no problem of social structure. The numerous findings about categorical differences in the course of integration processes according to gender and generation membership, social origin, educational attainment, and the age of migration can be interpreted as the result of differentially dispersed action motivations and options. In this sense, the higher educational attainment accounts on the one hand for the enlargement of the migrants' action alternatives when acquiring cognitive skills for the affiliation of social relationships with members of the receiving society and also for the acquisition of job related skills and thus it can have the effect of reducing conflicts. On the other hand, a higher educational level produces an increase in the aspiration level for status mobility. If adequate opportunities are missing or even mobility barriers are defined alongside ethnic lines, the raised aspiration level may have an increasing effect on anomy and accordingly may lead to a special conflict intensity of the integration process, according to classical anomy theories.

The presented empirical analysis aims at answering the question of the conflict intensity of integration processes under one specific aspect. We concentrate on intergenerational relations between parents and their adolescent children. All the same, conflicts between different generations of family members have always attracted the interest of migration sociology, because by them the dynamic and the intensity of integration processes can be shown exemplary (Nauck, 1997a).

Since the conceptualisation of the "race-relations cycles" in the migration sociology of the 1930s, changes between generations of migrants have always played an important role in the study of integration processes (Esser, 1980). Mostly in doing so, the assimilation level of the migrating generation was compared with that of the following generations, in order to express general "rules" of intergenerational integration behaviour (Isajiw, 1990). …

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