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What Works? Family Influences on Occupational Aspirations among Descendants of Middle Eastern Immigrants on the Swedish Labour Market
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6003-8823
The Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise, Gävle, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2885-0635
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work. (Socialt arbete)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4962-1540
Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
2019 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Social Research, ISSN 1892-2783, E-ISSN 1892-2783, Vol. 9, p. 134-160Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, we examine family influences on occupational aspirations among employed descendants of Middle Eastern immigrants. Using a qualitative approach, we conducted 21 semi-structured interviews with native-born descendants of Middle Eastern immigrants. We present and analyse their interpretations of their parents’ experiences and living conditions before, during and after migration and demonstrate how these interpretations shaped their own occupational aspirations. We discuss parents’ high expectations of their children in relation to ethnic-community valuations of educational and occupational achievements. These high expectations may increase the chances of social mobility but can also become a negative pressure, especially if parents set high standards but cannot help their children to meet those expectations. In these cases, older siblings who possess valuable knowledge of the educational system and labour market can function as important transferrers of resources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 9, p. 134-160
Keywords [en]
labour market participation, descendants of immigrants, family relations, social capital, cultural capital
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-29199DOI: 10.7577/njsr.2235OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-29199DiVA, id: diva2:1283653
Available from: 2019-01-29 Created: 2019-01-29 Last updated: 2019-11-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. How Do They Make It?: perspectives on labour market participation among descendants of immigrants in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How Do They Make It?: perspectives on labour market participation among descendants of immigrants in Sweden
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This is a compilation dissertation based on a comprehensive summary and four empirical articles. The overarching aim of the dissertation is to study influences on the occupational aspirations and attainments of employed descendants of non-European, non-Western immigrants in Sweden, from their own perspectives. The results are based on qualitative interviews with 9 men and 12 women, all born in Sweden with two immigrant parents. At the time of the interviews, the respondents were aged 25–35 years and had been employed for a minimum of six months, most of them for at least three years.

Article I analyses and discusses family influences on the occupational aspirations of the descendants of immigrants. It employs a theoretical framework of cultural capital to demonstrate that descendants’ interpretations of their parents’ experiences and living conditions before, during, and after migration shape and positively influence their own occupational aspirations. The article also shows that siblings may function as important transferrers of knowledge and information.

Article II examines how the descendants of immigrants perceive that interactions with public officials have benefitted their occupational aspirations and attainments. Using the concept of social capital as an analytical tool, the article draws three conclusions. First, public officials who establish a sense of connectedness in interacting with descendants of immigrants may transmit substantial symbolic resources to them. Second, it is important for public officials to support their clients’ personally meaningful goals and to focus on possibilities for achieving those goals. The article also shows that public officials may help descendants of immigrants to form and fulfil occupational aspirations by transmitting important knowledge and information to them.

Article III explores how descendants of immigrants understand labour market conditions, and how these conditions influence their occupational pathways and strategies. The article employs the concept of habitus to analyse approaches and strategies on the labour market in relation to objective conditions. Three themes are presented in the article. The first theme, being in the “right” field, covers respondents working in branches with labour shortages and/or a high demand for employees with an immigrant background. These respondents used their personal backgrounds as “selling points”, turning the general disadvantage of having an immigrant background into an advantage. The second theme covers respondents who could learn through failing in entering and participating on the labour market, indicating a trial-and-error approach. The third theme deals with respondents who had actively searched for jobs in branches which value their particular skill set. The article highlights the important relationship between active individual agency and external, objective opportunities and constraints.

Article IV explores perceptions of labour market participation in relation to gender norms and parenting ideals among men and women of migrant descent. Starting from the literature on work, family, and gender in a context of migration, and in relation to the Swedish social and political context, four themes are presented in the results. The male and female respondents viewed labour market participation from different, gendered, perspectives. The women saw labour market participation as a source of emancipation, whereas the men perceived it as a means for providing for a current/future family. Thus, while they depicted themselves as dedicated to norms of gender equality, they also expressed gender- biased views on work and family arrangements. These gender-biased views largely reflect those of Swedish people in general, as demonstrated in earlier studies. Nonetheless, the results reveal that the immigrant heritage of the descendants of immigrants influences their views on labour market participation, perceptions of gender norms, and parenting ideals. The article shows how these descendants interpret and actively challenge gender inequalities in the immigrant generation in ways that support intergenerational changes in work-family arrangements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2019. p. 93
Keywords
labour market participation; labour market conditions; occupational attainment; aspirations; descendants of immigrants; second generation; gender; family; social capital; cultural capital; habitus
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-30837 (URN)978-91-7855-124-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-11-15, Stora Jadwiga-Salen, Kungsbäcksvägen 47, Gävle, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-10-28 Created: 2019-10-28 Last updated: 2019-12-12Bibliographically approved

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Aslan, PinarSjöberg, Stefan

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