05 SES 02, Migrants' Experiences and Trajectories
The civic and political participation of young migrants is considered a crucial dimension for the promotion of their integration, inclusion and for the development of community bonds (Eggert & Giugni, 2010). However, their participation is still a research area little studied, both nationally (Fernandes-Jesus, 2013; Ribeiro et al. 2015) as internationally (Ishizawa, 2015; Lee & Pritzker, 2013). Immigrant associations, in particular, are recognized as crucial contexts for the study of migrants’ participation and inclusion in the host society (Schrover; Vermeulen, 2005; Sardinha, 2009). Nevertheless, in the Portuguese case, the participation of young migrants through associative contexts has receive little attention (Horta, 2010). Therefore, this paper intends to fill this gap by examining the different experiences and forms of participation of young migrants (both 1.5 and second generations) in immigrant associations located in Portugal. Having in consideration that associations are “communities of choice” rather than “communities of fate” (Hirst, 1996), we aim to understand why young people get involved in immigrant associations. Moreover, we intend to analyse the meanings migrant young attribute to their engagement in migrant associations as well as how this involvement influence their sense of belonging to school, to the local community and to the nation.
Young migrants are a vulnerable population. Recent research with migrant children and young people has reported their struggles to belong to settlement societies, often facing discrimination, hostility and exclusion (Katartzi, 2017; Fassetta, 2015). Furthermore, migrant youth continue to face major disadvantages in education and in the transition to labour market. On average, all European OECD countries children of immigrants tend to have worse school performance than the children of non-immigrants. On the other hand, they are more likely to fall into the group of young people on the margins of the labour market – that is, those who have few years of schooling and are neither studying nor employed or in training (Global Migration Group. 2014). However, the processes of educational exclusion are not only associated with the results (knowledge or certificates) but also with crucial issues related to educational processes (belonging, recognition or representation) (Tarabini; Jacovkis; Montes, 2017). For instance, adolescents who feel that they are part of a school community are more likely to perform better academically and be more motivated in school (Goodenow, 1993).
Thus, we will use the notion “sense of belonging” as a strong analytical concept to examine young migrant participation and its possible effects on their social and educational inclusion. Belonging evokes the idea of being and feeling “at home” (Guibernau, 2013). Sense of belonging can be characterized as “feeling at ease with one’s self and one’s social, cultural, relational and material contexts” and is created through a process of establishing a sense of identification with, or connection to, cultures, people, places and material objects (May, 2013). Therefore, through young migrants’ perspective, we are interested in gaining insights into: 1) the patterns and meanings of youth migrant participation; 2) the sense of belongings of young migrants to school, to their locality and to the nation; 3) and finally the influence of associative participation in young people’s life, namely helping them to develop bonds and attachments to their social, educational and cultural sorroundings. In the end this paper aims to contribute to the discussion, at a European context, about how participation of migrant youth can bestow opportunities of social and educational inclusion. On the other hand, this paper aims to bring new insights into migrant youth cultures and into the ways they forge multiple belongings.
This paper is part of a larger study about the participation in immigrant associations of young people with migrant background aged between 15-25 years old. The study took place in nine immigrant associations located in the north, center and south of Portugal. Four associations constituted with young migrants with African origins (three from Cape-Verde and one from Guinea Bissau) and five associations constituted with young migrants with Eastern European origins (one from Romenia and Moldavia, two from Ukraine and two that encompasses migrants from different countries of East Europe). The selection of associations was done opportunistically and purposefully on the basis of the existence of young people with migrant background. We opted to include in our sample young people from African countries because most of the immigrant associations are inclined to this population. On the other hand, we opted to include associations with young people with Eastern European origins, because the research focuses on this group is scarce (Horta, 2010). We chose nine different contexts to have a view of the associational landscape of Portugal as diverse as complex. This option enables us to compare the different forms of participation of young migrants that lives in different social and geographic contexts. Moreover, the findings may indicate differences and similarities between youth cultures and their types of participation, allowing us to achieve sound and accurate knowledge. The collected data was qualitative and relied mostly on interviews. After selecting and visiting the immigrant associations, we undertook individual interviews with coordinators and leaders of all those 9 associations. Then, we conducted individual and group interviews with young migrants that participate those associations.
We expect to understand trends and differentiated approaches of migrant youth participation, aiming to develop an analytical framework of their different types of engagement. We expect to understand why immigrant associations are appealing to young migrants. Through their perspectives, we expect to unravel the reasons for their participation as well as the benefits they draw from this involvement. Moreover, we expect to understand the sense of belongings young migrants forge and develop with the school, the locality and the nation. Because this population is heir of a different cultural heritage we expect to understand their cultural belonging in relation to Portugal and to their origins. Furthermore, we expect to achieve a deep knowledge on the young migrants’ difficulties, struggles and constrains to belong and feel included in society and education systems. Thus, the knowledge we expect to achieve may help us to think globally about migrant youth cultures and about migrant youth participation as a strategy to inclusion.
1.Eggert, N. & Giugni, M. (2010). Does associational involvement spur political integration? Political interest and participation of three immigrant groups in Zurich. Swiss Political Science Review, 16(2), 175-210. 2.Fassetta, G. (2015) Communicating attitudes: Ghanaian children’s expectations and experiences of Italian educational institutions. Childhood 22(1): 23–38. 3.Fernandes-Jesus, I. (2013). Diversity in civic and political participation: participation experiences among young people, immigrants and women. Porto 4.Global Migration Group (2014) Migration and Youth: challenges and opportunities. United Nations Children’s Fund 5.Goodenow, C. (1993), “Classroom belonging among early adolescent students: relationships to motivation and achievement”, The Journal of Early Adolescence, Vol. 13/1, pp. 21-43. 6.Guibernau, Montserrat (2013) Belonging. Solidarity and Division in Modern Societies. Policy Press: United Kingdom. 7.Hirst, P. (1996) Associative Democracy. New forms of economic and social governance. Polity Press: Oxford. 8.Horta, A.P. (org.) (2010) Revista Migrações. Associativismo Imigrante. ACIDI, Lisboa. 9.Ishizawa, H. (2015) Civic Participation through Volunteerism among Youth across Immigrant Generations. Sociological Perspectives. Vol. 58(2) 264–285 10.Katartzi, E. (2017) Young migrants’ narratives of collective identifications and belonging. Childhood. 1-13. 11.Lee, S. & Pritzker, S. (2013). Immigrant youth and voluntary service: Who serves? Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 11, 1, 91-111. 12.May, V. (2013) Connecting Self to Society. Belonging in a changing world. Palgrave Macmillan. New York 13.Ribeiro, N; Malafaia, C.; Neves,T.; Ferreira, P. & Menezes, I. (2015) Constraints and opportunities for civic and political participation: perceptions of young people from immigrant and non-immigrant background in Portugal, Journal of Youth Studies, 18:6, 685-705 14.Sardinha, J (2009) Immigrant Associations, Integration and Identity Angolan, Brazilian and Eastern European Communities in Portugal. IMISCOE Dissertations. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam. 15.Schrover, D. & Vermeulen, F. (2005) Immigrant Organisations, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31:5, 823-832 16.Tarabini, A.; Jacovkis, J. & Montes, M (2017): Factors in educational exclusion: including the voice of the youth, Journal of Youth Studies, 1-16
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