Academic journal article Migration Letters

1.5-Generation Immigrant Adolescents' Autonomy Negotiations in Transnational Family Contexts

Academic journal article Migration Letters

1.5-Generation Immigrant Adolescents' Autonomy Negotiations in Transnational Family Contexts

Article excerpt

Acculturation and 1.5-Generation Transnational Immigrants

Immigration is an increasingly complex worldwide phenomenon. In 2015, there were 76 million international migrants in Europe (United Nations, 2015). The number of immigrant families has increased rapidly in Finland, which has traditionally been an ethnically homogenous society. In Finland, the number of speakers of foreign languages is largest in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, where 13,5 per cent of the population spoke a language other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami as their mother tongue in 2015 (City of Helsinki, 2016).1 The City of Helsinki estimates that every fourth child aged 0-15 years living in the area will be registered as a foreign language speaker in 2030 (ibid.).

Immigration and acculturation refer to the processes of cultural and psychological change that take place as a result of contact between cultural groups and their individual members (Redfield et al., 1936; Berry, 1997). These processes confuse a person's previous experience and knowledge, and lead to changes in social relations and self-image (Suárez-Orozco and Suárez-Orozco, 2001). Immigrant adolescents have typically been seen as more adaptive, flexible with norms and values, and quicker learners than their parents (Portes and Rumbaut, 2001). However, research also points to the particular dual transitional challenges of immigrant adolescents. Firstly, they encounter normative developmental tasks such as developing personal identity and, secondly, they confront acculturative tasks, such as learning a new language and habits (Alitolppa-Niitamo, 2004; Sam and Oppedal, 2003; Fuligni and Pedersen, 2002).

The target group of our study is adolescents who have migrated to Finland before or during their early teens (ages 7 to 14). This group represents the so called 1.5 generation, as opposed to the first or second generation (Portes and Rumbaut, 2001).2 The 1.5 generation forms a particularly transnational immigrant group. Their adolescence and development are largely affected by at least two cultures: the culture of their country of origin and that of the receiving country. Most importantly, 1.5-generation immigrants have first-hand experience of their original cultures and the country of emigration of their families. (Bartley and Spooney, 2008). These cultural and social ties pose demands in negotiating between the two cultures, particularly over issues of autonomy and identity (Suárez-Orozco and Suárez-Orozco, 2001; Phinney et al., 2006), and impact these migrants, creating multiple and hyphenated identities, and multiple notions of "home" (AlitolppaNiitamo 2002; Verkuyten, 2005; Bartley and Spooney, 2008).

In our study, we combine cross-cultural perspectives and research on acculturation and transnationalism with the field of developmental psychology to study the autonomy negotiations of the 1.5 generation. In addition, we apply the analysis of multivoicedness (Aveling et al., 2015) in order to describe autonomy negotiations in a transnational context. According to Aveling and her colleagues (2015), conceptualizing the Self as multivoiced originates in the theoretical tradition of dialogism, where the Other is not in opposition to Self, but part of Self; further, the Self is reflected in relation to Others. For example, Bhatia (2002) has showed how immigrant and diasporic communities invoke the voices of host and home communities to position themselves within different social contexts.

The theoretical framework of our study is the ecological framework, which looks at development within the context of social systems. The ecological model of development regards interacting contexts of children (e.g., family, school, peers) as shaping their development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). In addition to immediate social settings, Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological systems model consists of the levels of community and cultural values. In our qualitative study, we focus on family, the group that forms one of the immediate social contexts of children's development (Onwuegbuzie et al. …

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