Academic journal article Migration Letters

The Social Well-Being of Second-Generation Turks in Two Austrian Cities

Academic journal article Migration Letters

The Social Well-Being of Second-Generation Turks in Two Austrian Cities

Article excerpt


The most recent Austrian Integration Report indicates that a substantial proportion of Turkish immigrants do not feel at home in Austria. Whether these lower levels of social well-being also apply to the Turkish first, second or follow-up generations in Austria is uncertain. This article aims to fill this gap by asking how the Turkish second generation perceives their social inclusion into Austrian society. Results based on the TIES survey reveal that social well-being is largely determined by immigrants' socio-economic achievements as well as by experiences of discrimination in their educational and occupational trajectories and daily life. Intergenerational progress is also found to be positively related with social well-being but at a much lower level.

Keywords: Austria; Turks; second-generation; well-being; discrimination; education.


The achievements of Turkish immigrants and their descendants in Austria, and the opportunities available to them, are often regarded as the "litmus test" for integration and for the success or failure of Austrian integration policies in this field. While previous research on the situation of the Turkish first and second generation in Austria started to focus on the actual size and the determinants of ethnic inequalities that migrants may face in education or on the labour market (Bacher, 2010; Herzog-Punzenberger and Gapp, 2009; Kogan, 2007), empirical research examining the consequences of these inequalities on their social well-being is scarce. Nevertheless, exploring patterns of social well-being and perceptions of belonging within the Turkish community seems to be of significant relevance, given that a substantial proportion of this group does not feel at home within Austria (BMI, 2013: 90-91). Moreover, slightly more than every second person of Turkish origin feels more strongly attached to their country of origin than to their receiving country of Austria. Explanations for these striking findings are largely missing and whether these lower levels of social well-being also apply to Turkish second and follow-up generations is uncertain. The social inclusion of second-generation Turks is of particular importance, since they were born and raised in Austria and their perceptions may provide a clearer indication of the long-term prospects for their integration into society than do the experiences of the first generation, their parents (Esser, 2004; Gordon, 1964).

Within this paper I ask how the Turkish second generation perceives their social inclusion in Austrian society. I argue that their opportunities and socioeconomic success, as well as their experiences of unfair treatment and exclusion, are intimately tied up with their social well-being. Looking at the social well-being of second-generation Turks and examining its interconnection with their socio-economic achievements and experiences of discrimination provides a detailed picture on their objective and subjective processes of "integration" in Austria.

In line with previous studies, I focus on three separate indicators constituting social well-being among the descendants of immigrants: feelings of belonging, out-group trust and individual self-esteem (Dion et al., 2009; Portes and Rumbaut, 2001; Reitz, 2009). These three aspects of social well-being are "important in determining social cohesion since they are known to be strongly related to pro-social behaviour and social ties at all levels" (Dion et al., 2009: 70). They have not yet been investigated for Austria nor for other European countries. As stated above, I assume that the social well-being of secondgeneration Turks is related to their socio-economic well-being, defined as a low or ideally absent degree of socio-economic inequality. Evidence supporting this link is primarily derived from US and Canadian studies on the secondgeneration indicating that, if ethno-racial communities experience inequality, there are effects on the sense of fairness, openness and overall life satisfaction of the children of immigrants (Dion et al. …

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