Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN35_03c_P: Labour Market Trajectories of the Descendants of Immigrants in Europe
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Ingrid Tucci, LEST-CNRS
Session Chair: Nicolas Martin Legewie, Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW Berlin)
Location: PC.3.18
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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What Works: Positive Influences on Occupational Aspirations and Attainments among Descendants of Immigrants on the Swedish Labour Market

Pinar Aslan1, Nader Ahmadi1, Stefan Sjöberg1, Eva Wikström2

1University of Gävle, Sweden; 2Umeå University, Sweden

In this article we examine positive influences on occupational aspirations and perceptions of occupational attainment among descendants of Middle Eastern immigrants who are in employment. Using a qualitative approach, we conducted twenty-one semi-structured interviews followed by a thematic analysis of the results. Parents’ migration biographies and influences from other family members played an important role in creating high occupational aspirations and shaping positive perceptions of occupational attainment among these descendants of Middle Eastern immigrants. Moreover, collectivist features within the family and the parents’ embeddedness in the ethnic community resulted in higher involvement in descendants’ educational and occupational attainments.

Labour market trajectories of the descendants of Chinese immigrants in Portugal

Sofia Gaspar


Chinese migration to Portugal has been growing consistently since the 1990s, and in 2015, the Chinese community was already the fifth most important in the country. A central question to analyze in this context is which are the labor market trajectories developed by the Chinese community (first immigrants and descendants) in Portugal. Previous research has suggested that there are different labor pathways developed by first and second generation immigrants, since immigrants’ descendants have an educational and professional socialization closer to the residence country. The aim of this paper is to analyze professional trajectories of Chinese descendants settled in Portugal. Quantitative (Census 2011) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews) data will be used in the analysis, as to understand which factors intervene on their labor pathways in comparison to first generation Chinese. The results obtained have shown a relationship between social integration and the professional strategies developed by Chinese descendants. Those whose social integration is mostly confined to ethnic Chinese enclaves have professional trajectories more similar to those of their parents (e.g., entrepreneurial activities linked to sales trade). By contrary, those descendants whose social integration involves a closer contact to host society perform professional activities that function as a tool in articulating Portuguese and Chinese communities (e.g., translators, teachers, real estate agents, touristic guides, etc). These results shed light not only to social and professional reproduction practices developed by Chinese descendants when compared to their parents, but also to their strategic role as an intermediator social group within first generations and Portuguese society.

Experiences of discrimination and coping strategies of second generation academics during the career-entry phase in Austria.

Margarita Verena Wolf, Lena Seewann, Roland Verwiebe

University of Vienna, Austria

This presentation addresses discrimination as experienced by young academics with a migrant background in the Austrian labor market. Focusing on the descendants of Central Eastern European and Turkish migrants we explore two major issues. First, we ask whether their career-entry and everyday professional life entails origin-specific discrimination. Second, we concentrate on how this group overcomes these experiences. We utilize recent literature that addresses the diversity of individual experiences, with concepts such as “multiple” and “subtle discrimination”. This distinguishes us from a long tradition of research, which deals with motives of discrimination, but less often considers the effects on those concerned and the coping strategies applied.

21 problem-centered interviews are the empirical foundation underlying this study. The results indicate a variety of discrimination experiences ranging from barely perceptible disadvantages to overt marginalization. The spectrum covered stereotypical suppositions at job interviews, the disavowal of competencies, symbolic or social exclusion by new colleges, restricted professional participation (e.g. customer contact) and non-recruitment due to religious or ethnical markers. The influence of the education level, networks, or competences seemed to be minimal, as negative prejudice on the basis of visible “social markers” operated “ex-ante”. The coping strategies identified are: an increased emphasis on effort, avoidance of potentially marginalizing situations, direct resistance and dismissal of negative experiences by ignoring or ironizing the situation. In some cases the academics drew into their specific competences, such as an intellectual approach of studying specialist literature. Our analysis further suggests a distinction between reactive and preventative strategies of coping.

“Per aspera ad astra”: how children of immigrants cautiously climb up the social ladder

Rosita Fibbi1, Robin Stuenzi1, Philipp Schnell2

1University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland; 2University of Vienna, Austria

This paper examines the educational and occupational trajectories among second generation of Turkish and Western-Balkan origin in Switzerland using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The analysis of a representative sample of more than 1100 respondents in Swiss urban areas show that descendants of Turkish and Western-Balkan immigrants have reduced chances to follow a constant successful educational trajectory. Yet their occupational situation shows that they manage to follow upward mobile path more often than the majority group. Further qualitative enquiry of young adults in the labor market digs into this apparent paradox by mapping out their paths and strategies to achieve this result. We conducted 25 in-depth interviews with immigrant as well as native-origin workers active in the business sector which is the first choice of upper secondary training for second generation. Children of immigrants have a distinctive way from native origin youth of navigating the Swiss educational system which is characterised by an early selection and, at the same time, by a significant degree of permeability between tracks in tertiary education. They pursue an incremental strategy of assertion by further leveraging on-the-job training opportunities to achieve a higher position while securing acceptance in their work environment. They thus manage to profit from specific features of the business sector which appears to be fairly open to upward social mobility.

Spatial opportunity structures and youths’ transitions from school to training—varying effect patterns between immigrant and native German youths

Alexandra Nonnenmacher, Alexandra Wicht

University of Siegen, Germany

Previous research has shown that school–to-work transitions depend on spatial opportunity structures, that is, the probability of finding a training position is influenced not only by the number of offers in the direct vicinity, but also to a significant extent by the respective number in non-local regions. We now pose the question whether these effects differ between immigrant and native German youths.

In Germany, like in many countries, migrants have smaller opportunities of finding a training position than non-migrants.. This disadvantage could be compensated by widening the search radius, but it is known, at least with respect to the working age population, that migrants are less mobile. If this holds for school graduates also, migrants would suffer more from a poor supply of local training positions than non-migrants.

In our presentation, we compare the effects of spatial opportunity structures between immigrant and native German youths, following intersectional theory. We use data on youths’ transitions from school into firm based vocational training from Germany’s National Educational Panel Study, which enables us to merge regional time-series data about local as well as non-local training conditions. We found that the pattern of spatial opportunity structures considerably varies by ethnicity: Immigrant youths are virtually restricted to the local training market, while native German youths also profit from the training market situation in remote districts. Immigrant youths, whose opportunities are already poor compared to native German youths, seem to be not able to compensate poor local conditions by being mobile.

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