Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Giving a Face to Immigration and Integration Processes: The Use of Photovoice with Italian Young Adults

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Giving a Face to Immigration and Integration Processes: The Use of Photovoice with Italian Young Adults

Article excerpt

From a social psychology perspective, immigration is an ecological transition that involves deep changes in the contexts of interaction for both natives and to immigrants (Cushner, 2008). Many European nations became countries of immigration during the second half of the last century. The EU-27 foreign population (people residing in an EU-27 member state with citizenship from a non-member country) on 1 January 2013 was 20.4 million, representing 4.1 % of the EU-27 population. In absolute terms, the largest numbers of non-nationals living in the EU on 1 January 2013 were found in Germany (7.7 million persons), Spain (5.1 million), the United Kingdom (4.9 million), Italy (4.4 million) and France (4.1 million) (Eurostat, 2014). Some countries have a long history of immigration (France, United Kingdom and Germany) and other have a relatively brief and recent experience (Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal). As of 1 January 2011, the proportion of Italy's population accounted for by foreign immigrants was approximately 7.5% (4.570.317). Although there is a polycentric nature of migration in Italy (196 nationalities represented in Italy), approximately half of the immigrants (51.1%) come from only five countries. The largest national groups by proportion of resident foreigners are the Romanians (21%), Moroccans (14%), and Albanians (10.6%) (Istat, 2011). Because of the great diversity in minority groups there is no single characteristic (e.g., religion, values, behavior) that defines immigrants in a particular ethnic group. The international immigration is having a deep effect on European countries: cultural heterogeneity has become a structural element of Italian and European society that allows natives and migrants to have experiences characterized by daily contact. Among the problems that are caused by migration are the reactions of the host societies that face these new situations of coexistence. In the broader European context, ethnic and religious diversity is similarly on the rise, and this diversity can contribute to important intercultural dialogues and to integration. Despite this, immigration is still portrayed as both a source of problems and an opportunity for individuals and communities. Dandy and Pe-Pua (2010) outline some of the benefits associated with immigration (enrichment of the receiving culture, more positive views of intergroup contact, economic advantage) but also some critical issues (clear divisions between different cultural groups, intolerance, racism, discrimination, crime and violence, social inequality).

Within a psycho-social framework, this intercultural model describes integration as a multidimensional process of living together among culturally and ethnically different individuals and groups based on respect for diversity and common respect for human rights and democratic institutions (Besozzi, Colombo & Santagati, 2009; Bourhis, Moïse, Perreault & Senécal, 1997). Intercultural integration is a multifaceted and multilevel issue (Boski, 2008). Integration at the individual level is associated with acquiring an intercultural mindset, a relational level that implicates intercultural communication and relationships, at a formal level, integration alludes to the constructing new norms that can help to resolve shared problems. Studies about psychological the aspects of the relationships between different cultures mainly focus on the minority perspective (Kunst & Sam, 2013; Lee & Bean, 2010). However, people's attitudes towards immigrants is one of the most important topics in social psychology studies and the need to consider the host society's perspective, to reach a deeper comprehension of relationships in a plural society is becoming stronger (Frankenberg, Kupper, Wagner, & Bogard, 2013). This perspective allows for highlighting the interactivity of acculturation processes and their importance for integrating minority groups. In such a multicultural context, it is important to consider the majority's youth perspective because today's young people will be the protagonists of future social changes. …

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