Scholarly article on topic 'Female Immigration. Intergroup Relationships, Integration Processes and Role of Selves'

Female Immigration. Intergroup Relationships, Integration Processes and Role of Selves Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Daniela Damigella, Orazio Licciardello

Abstract In Italy the presence of female immigrants is roughly equal to that of males (Dossier Caritas, 2012:105). Women are often inserted in the ‘global market of care’ (Ehrenreich & Hochschild, 2004:26) or are involved in the family reunion process. They have to deal with a lot of changes and challenges that are strictly related to their social identity (Tajfel, 1981) and integration dynamics. The aim was to explore the attitudes that a group of female immigrants has on: integration processes; intergroup relationships; the possibility to promote a positive change towards a better quality of life. Our hypothesis is that these representations correlate with Selves and groups’ dimensions. Data have been collected by a semi-structured questionnaire. Results delineates an articulated framework.

Academic research paper on topic "Female Immigration. Intergroup Relationships, Integration Processes and Role of Selves"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 191 (2015) 1102 - 1106

WCES 2014

Female Immigration. Intergroup Relationships, Integration Processes And Role Of Selves.

Daniela Damigellaa *, Orazio Licciardellob,

aUniversity of Messina, Department of Human and Social Sciences, Via Bivona 2, Messina, 98121, Italy; b University of Catania, Department of Educational Processes, Via Biblioteca 4, Catania, 95124, Italy.

Abstract

In Italy the presence of female immigrants is roughly equal to that of males (Dossier Caritas, 2012:105). Women are often inserted in the 'global market of care' (Ehrenreich & Hochschild, 2004:26) or are involved in the family reunion process. They have to deal with a lot of changes and challenges that are strictly related to their social identity (Tajfel, 1981) and integration dynamics. The aim was to explore the attitudes that a group of female immigrants has on: integration processes; intergroup relationships; the possibility to promote a positive change towards a better quality of life. Our hypothesis is that these representations correlate with Selves and groups' dimensions. Data have been collecte d by a semi-structured questionnaire. Results delineates an articulated framework.

© 2015TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevier Ltd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of WCES 2014 Keywords: migration, integration processes, biculturalism, attitudes.

1. Introduction

The female immigration has become a constitutive element of Italian society and the presence of these women in the spheres of everyday life is persistent and durable. This phenomenon is changing the Italian family structures. For instance, their contribution to the Italian fertility is better than that of the Italians (on average 2.07 children for immigrant women vs. 1.33 for the Italians) and mixed marriages involve mostly Italian men who marry foreign women (Dossier Caritas, 2012:105). Certainly, the social category of female immigrants is characterized by a number of differences within the same national in group and between different groups. Pointing out psycho-social aspects of this phenomenon, changes and challenges which immigrant women have to deal with concur to define

*Daniela Damigella. Tel.: +39-328-8374204 E-mail address: ddamigella@unime.it

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of WCES 2014 doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.231

and redefine their identity, especially their social identity (Tajfel, 1981) and those Self image aspects that come from social interaction with others (James, 1890; Cooley, 1902; Mead, 1934; Festinger, 1954). In these circumstances, indeed, according to a lewinian circular approach, several factors could be involved in identity development process: contact with a culture different from their own; the possibility to have relationships, sometime intimate and long-lasting, with the natives; the assumption of new roles and social status etc. All these factors and many others concur to develop different acculturation processes. In general, the positive co-existence of different cultures is integration, understood in terms of biculturalism (Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet-Martinez, 2000), a complex psychological and social phenomenon that combines elements of both origin and destination culture. It stimulates the creation of a multicultural society and enhances differences rather than their standardization encouraging new and more advanced forms of cultural development. Instead, assimilation entails a complete absorption into the local culture that is perceived dominant or more desirable (Bourhis, 2007:140). In this case the individual could suffer from a sense of isolation and therefore from a negative self image if he/she is not accepted and perceives that acceptance within the local culture.

2. Method

2.1 Aim and hypothesis

The aim of this study was to explore the attitudes and the representational framework that a group of female immigrants has on: integration processes; intergroup relationships; the measures to promote a positive change towards a better quality of life. Specifically, it intended to test the hypothesis that these representations correlate with Selves (Actual and Future) and groups' dimensions.

2.2 Participants

Research was carried out with a group of female immigrants (N. 50) living in a metropolitan city of Sicily and aged between 19 and 69 (M=37.94). Considering the strict correspondence between the years of stay in Italy (M=9.68) and those relating to residence in the Sicilian city (M=8.94), we could suggest that the women of our sample have come directly to Catania and have remained here. With regard to marital status, more than half (56%) of the women is married (specifically: 36% with a countryman; 16% with an Italian; 4% with a foreigner of other nationality) and the remaining part is single (30%), divorced (10%) or widowed (4%). Less than half (42%) had no children and the remaining part had from a minimum of one to a maximum of three (children's mean age=6.58). The sample differed by: region of origin (Philippine:34%; East Europe:26%; West Europe:22%; China and Japan:18%); professed religion (Christian:61%; Buddhist:21%; Atheist: 18%); level of education (middle school diploma:8%; high school diploma:70%; degree:14%; post-graduate title: 8% ). With regard to the latter data, it is interesting to note that the majority of our sample have a medium-high level of education and that almost half (44%) of them is devoted to job (the remaining part was made up of: 18% unemployed; 16% clerk; 14% self employer; 6% students; 2% housewife). With regard to the reasons for emigration, family reunion or affective factors concerned more than half (55%) of our sample; the remaining part is made up of women who have emigrated in search of a job (40%), sometimes obtained (confirming the importance of women network) by the presence and help of fellow countrywomen resident in Catania, or for study and tourism (10%). The choice to stay in Catania for more than half of these women (58%) is due to the fact that they had here their job and this allows them to be independent; in other cases the reason is the presence of the family (36% ) or because the job of the husband was here (6%). Specifically, job and family are the reasons because of nearly two- thirds of the sample manifested the desire to remain in Italy. On one hand, in fact, these women are aware of the economic difficulties encountered in their country, on the other hand, the awareness that their children are raised in Italy is a strong 'bond' that lead them to remain in order to avoid difficulties that their children may face in case of returning in their country of origin.

2.3 Materials and techniques

Data was collected by a semi-structured questionnaire containing: I) background questions aimed at drawing an appropriate profile of individuals' socio-cultural features, useful for the construction of possible research variables (Licciardello, 1994); II) a group of open questions on the psycho-social aspect of migration and integration processes; III) a group of item treated as a seven-point Likert scale (1=total disagreement; 7=total agreement, with 4='medium point') in order to measure the representational framework related to intergroup relationships; IV) a group of item treated as a six-point Likert scale (1= not at all; 6=very much) in order to measure the representational framework related to possible changes towards a better quality of life; V) four Semantic Differentials (Di Nuovo & Licciardello, 1997) concerning the representation of: Actual Self (As I am) ; Future Self (As I will be); ingroup (the people of my country are); outgroup (the people of Catania).

2.4 Procedures

The sample was reached trough the collaboration of a Local Immigration Office. The materials were administered by the researcher in a face to face setting. Data analysis was carried out by SPSS 20 for Windows, using Pearson's "r" for correlation analysis. We calculated the mean values of each item for the data obtained with the semi-structured questionnaire. Regarding the Semantic Differentials, we calculated the: ^reliability with Cronbach's alpha: Actual Self (a=.744), Future Self (a=.851), ingroup (a=.795), outgroup (a=.803), which allowed us to consider each one as a scale; 2) and the average sum of each pair of opposite adjectives scores (for each a score ranging from 1, absolutely negative, to 7 absolutely positive, with the 'medium point'=4).

3. Results

3.1 Intra-intergroup relationships

With regard to friendships, data revealed certain openness toward persons from a culture different from theirs. Indeed, 70% of the sample stated they had ingroup as well as Italian friends; instead 30% hang out with exclusively countrywomen, pointing out a possible ingroup closing. Groups affiliation is considered no so relevant: more than half of the women did not attend any kind of group (56%), while the remaining part is made up of women attending religious/national (34%) and recreational groups (cultural and sports ) (10%). Culture of origin seems not to be so important, relevant are the affective ties. In this regard, except for a small percentage (8%) that stated they didn't feel the lack of country of origin and that they have perfectly adapted to local traditions and customs, more than three quarters of the sample (78%) mentioned the lack of strong ties (especially those with parents) and the remaining part of national food and custom (14%). Italian culture seems to be largely appreciated. Indeed, 33% of the sample stated they share everything and the remaining part revealed some specific positive aspects: openness, gaiety and availability referred, especially, to those people from which they were supported and who have made easier the integration process (30%); customs and traditions to which they were adapted and intrigued (16%); the greater freedom and better consideration of women which characterizes local culture compared to those of the country of origin (21%). Regarding the representation of local population's attitudes towards female immigrants, it seems to be positively oriented. Women rejected items that denoted indifference (M =2.9), suspicion (M =3.3) or racism (M =3.1) and they expressed fair agreement with those related to the attitudes of openness, availability and acceptance (M=4.66).

3.2 Integration processes

In general, the women of our sample felt fairly integrated (M=4.16) and they stated that school is an important place of exchange, of intercultural contact and in which full integration can be achieved (M =5.20). However, it should be interesting to understand the meaning that our samples have associated to the concept of integration. Specifically, 40% of the women conceived integration in terms of assimilation and of full membership to the local culture, rejecting everything that has to do with the country of origin (customs, traditions, language, etc.); 20% see

integration in terms of a biculturalism based on the positive coexistence of local and origin cultures; the same percentage of women (20%) connected to this concept the desire to have a deeper and more positive relationship with the local population and a small percentage (12%) to have a better understanding of local language and culture or to give them equal opportunities compared to Italians (8%).

3.3 Measures to promote a better quality of immigrants' life

With regard to measures which could improve immigrants' living conditions, almost half of the sample (42% ) did not give answer. For the remaining part, the interventions seemed to focus on institutional-bureaucratic initiatives: free Italian language courses (20%); streamlining of procedures concerning residence permits and practices for family reunification (8%); legislative interventions aimed to guarantee the rights of the workers (10%); better reception of newly arrived immigrants (14%). A small percentage (6%) asked for a better representation of immigrants by the mass-media that, focusing only on crimes related to immigrants, strengthened stereotypes and prejudices towards them. Moreover, women showed very low level of personal (M=2.5) and in group (M=2.74) participation in the social and political life of the city. In relation to the role of Institutions and Associations to promote a better quality of immigrants' life, the women expressed level of trust: fairly positive towards Local Institutions (Police Station: M=4.30; Local Immigrants Office: M=4.28); limited towards associations (of immigrants: M=3.60, of immigrants women: M=3.28, of volunteers M=3.18) and Trades Unions (M=3.56).

3.4 Selves, in group and out-group representations' and correlation analysis

In general, our sample seems to have a moderately positive Self representation. In particular, Future Self assessment is higher than that of Actual Self (M=5.18 vs. M=4.96) (p<.001) and both these identity dimensions are considered better than group dimensions (in all cases p<.001). Score assigned to the ingroup of countrymen is medium-low (M=4.56) and that assigned to the out group of people of Catania is lower (M=4.44) (the first is evaluated more positively respect the second: p<.001). The correlation analysis between Selves and group dimensions pointed out that the more they assessed Actual Self better is the evaluation both of Future Self (r=.411; p=.003) and of people of Catania (r=.300; p=.036). The correlation between Selves, group dimensions and items on intergroup relationships and on quality of life revealed that: a) the more was the evaluation of Actual Self less subjects considered a relevant difficulty learning Italian language (r=.-319; p<=.026) and the more they thought that women group or association can improve the migrants' quality of life (r=.300; p=.036); b) the more they assessed Future Self less they considered that being immigrant complicates relationships with institutions (r=.-320; p<=.023) and the more they thought that police station (r=.293; p=.039) and municipal offices that deal with immigrants (r=.324; p=.022) can improve their quality of life; c) the more was the evaluation of countrymen the more they thought that being immigrant makes it easy to be target of offensive and negative attitudes (r=.292; p=.040) the less they felt integrated in Catania (r=.-321; p=.023).

4. Conclusion

Results seem to delineate an articulated framework characterized by some problematic aspects and by interesting proposals. In general, intergroup relationships seem characterized by a good level of openness towards local people and culture and by a positive representation of local population's attitudes towards female immigrants. The integration process seems prevalently oriented in sense of assimilation. Moreover, the Italian culture seems to be largely appreciated for the specific characteristics (openness, gaiety, availability, greater freedom and better consideration of women, customs and traditions). The country of origin is important over all for the affective ties. There are very similar results regarding the possibility to promote a positive change towards a better quality of life. The desired measures to improve immigrants' living conditions are substantially finalized to the assimilation: very low personal and ingroup participation to the local social and political activities, fairly trust to the role of local institutions and limited to associations. The hypothesis seems confirmed. Specifically, a better Self evaluation correlates with the possibility to improve the migrants' quality of life by the intervention of women associations, police station and municipal offices that deal with immigrants. Instead, the better was the evaluation of countrymen the more they thought that being immigrant makes it easy to become a target of offensive and negative attitudes and

the less they felt integrated in the local context of life. This last datum opens a consideration on the possibility to consider integration as assimilation (expressed by nearly half of the sample) in terms of a social mobility (Tajfel, 1981) through which it is possible to obtain a better self image. Another question is: is this process the result of a normative social influence or of a free choice? In this regard, we intend to conduct further researches to better understand the entire complex dynamics revealed trough this study.

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