Children of International Migrants in Europe: Comparative Perspectives

Penn, Professor Roger and Lambert, Dr Paul
Palgrave Macmillan Ltd, Basingstoke
9780230018792 (pb)

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Cover of book Children of International Migrants in Europe examines the 'Effectiveness of National Integration Strategies' (EFFNATIS) for international migrants and their descendants within Western Europe. A central concern of the book is the most vexing problems faced by European countries due to the steady increase of the proportion of Muslims in their societies.

The EFFNATIS Project and its study population are outlined in the first chapter. The study focuses on the children of international migrants in Britain, France and Germany based on survey of young people, aged between 16-25 years during 1997-2001. The study collected information on economic, social and cultural aspects of migrant communities. The sample for this study was drawn from two different groups of children of international migrants and a parallel group drawn from the autochthonous population in the host country, which acted as a 'control' group.

Chapter two considers sociological models of immigrant incorporation. Gordon argues that the process of complete assimilation by immigrants and their descendants' changes cultural values, leads to widespread intermarriage between immigrants and host population, as well as the development of a sense of 'peoplehood' in the host society, reducing discrimination and conflicts over values and power. Thus, children of international migrants are seen to be adopting a common lifestyle based upon Nike, McDonalds and MTV (the US-based music video channel) far more quickly than can achieve parity with the autochthonous population in terms of educational attainment or employment possibilities.

Chapter three compares the contemporary situation of the children of international migrants in Britain, France and Germany in terms of linguistic, structural, cultural, social and identificational aspects. It is expected in the study that use of the language of their parents would be highest in Germany and lowest in France. The study also expects that children of migrants in Britain willing to say as to be British citizen and want to participate fully in wider political activities in the Britain and aware about the politics in their country of origin as well. Similarly, in France, the study expected that children of migrants would be full citizens and participate in wider political activities but less interest in the politics of their countries of parental origin. The study did not expect as many children of international migrants to be a German citizens or much interested in the wider politics in Germany. However, their political interests would focus on the countries of parental origin. Study expects higher degree of gender equality among children of migrants in France, much greater asymmetry between men and women in Germany and very complex in Britain. There is a variation on cultural behaviour and cultural norms for children of international migrants and little difference between autochthonous and allochthonous young people in France, greater difference in Germany and Britain. There is a social homogeneity, high degree of inter-ethnic friendships and marriages in France where as emphasis on multiculturalism and distinctive ethnic communities, study anticipated a far greater level of ethnically homogenous friendships and also preservation of the arranged marriage structures in Indian subcontinent in Britain. The scenario of Germany is different because of categorization of children of international migrants as 'foreigners' that results ethnically exclusive friendship and marriage patterns. It is interesting to see that, children of migrants in France and Britain want to say 'French' and 'British' rather than their country of parental origin where as in Germany, children of migrants want less likely to say themselves as 'German'(pp.34-45).

Theoretical paradigms for the sociological analysis of children of international migrants are examined in Chapter four. Anwar argues that children of international migrants were 'between two cultures': neither at home within the ethnic culture of their parents nor within the autochthonous culture (the culture of host country) that they encounter within the educational and employment spheres of the host society (p.51).

Chapter five looks linguistic incorporation patterns of language use among children of international migrants. There is a pressure among migrants for linguistic assimilation into the host language is often symbolic as well as practical. The study reveals that children of international migrants are able to communicate in the language of their host country as well as country of parental origin in all three countries. However, it was found that such language use was not a significance determinant of educational achievement or occupational levels of children of immigrants where as gender and social class background were consistently significant factors (Chapter six).

Chapter seven outlines the political and religious incorporation among migrant groups. The political situation of young people in migrant communities is affected by the respective national citizenship laws of the three countries where as the religion was complex among young migrants in Britain, France and Germany. The study also found that there is no evidence of alienated, radicalised Muslims in these three countries.

Chapter eight examines lifestyles, media consumption and subjective identities among the ethnic migrant groups and national population. The study concluded that many youth minority ethnic groups risk negative cultural incorporation into racially-based countercultures. Likewise, the majority of ethnic minority groups favour meals of their own national origins while a moderate but highly uneven degree of interest exists in the media related to the origins of children of international migrants in Britain, France and Germany.

Social interaction patterns based on two aspects i.e. marriage and friendship are discussed in Chapter nine. Friendship and partnership patterns were similar in Britain, France and Germany. Migrants in France were the least segregated in terms of ethnic social interaction while those in Britain were the most separate. There was also similarity on friendship homogamy and partner endogamy. There was no influence of gender and level of education to determine friends or partners from the same ethnic/nationality group.

Chapter ten describes socio-cultural exceptionalism, focusing on arranged marriages among children of international migrants in Western Europe. It is found that the tradition of arranged marriages continued among children in Britain whose parents came from the Indian sub-continent where as the practice of arranged marriages was disappeared among Maghrebian respondents in France. Arranged marriages were also uncommon among children of Turkish and former Yugoslav parents living in Germany.

Children of International Migrants in Europe is an accessible book that manages to include in a great deal of information. Penn and Lambert nicely compare the situation of children of international migrants in Europe. This book would be useful reading for students and scholars of migration-related subjects and seems to be more of an introductory resources for newcomers at their initial phase of research.

Pratik Adhikary
Bournemouth University