Over the past three decades, migration has become the main driver of population growth (or of preventing its decrease) in many EU countries. The presence of so many families with a migrant background is, however, to some extent, an unexpected phenomenon arising from the permanent settlement of migrant guest workers expected to be temporary residents and from other unplanned processes such as decolonization and the influx of asylum seekers. Moreover, family reunification is today one of the main legal channels by which migrants come to Europe, so it is no coincidence that the main issues animating European public debate on inter-ethnic coexistence involve family, religion, and the relationships between genders and generations. Finally, the migrant family has to some extent, become a lens through which to analyze many key topics connected with the present and future of European societies.
This work, Migrant Families and Religious Belonging, is a collection of nine essays exploring the relationship between family, religion, and immigration. These essays mainly focus on the integration process, with particular attention to the experience of migrants’ offspring. The book consists of an introductory chapter and four thematic sections, and topics covered include gender equality, forced marriages, child fostering care, and religious radicalization.
The relationship between family, religion and immigration provides a fascinating perspective to explore and shed light on European society today. The book will be of interest to a wide range of academics, researchers, and practitioners.
This chapter introduces the collection of essays presented in the book, starting by describing the challenging and exploratory meaning of the relationship between family, religion, and immigration. In the European landscape, only recently has the religion of migrants started to be investigated in new ways, that are careful to grasp the complexity of the religious experience and to avoid pre-conceived and stereotyped readings: a sort of “normalisation” in the approach to the topic, fed by both migration studies and religion studies. The chapter presents a reading of a selected sample of recent studies, adopting an approach based on the de-instrumentalization of religion and on the re-humanization of migrants, enabling them to express their subjective outlook on their own experience and on the significance of religious belonging. Lastly, the contents of the following chapters are presented and discussed.
Giuseppe Gabrielli, Germana Carobene, Salvatore Strozza
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The chapter aims to observe gender equality in family-related attitudes and behaviours among Muslim first-generation migrants aged 18–64 years old at interview and residing in Italy. We use data coming from the multipurpose “Social Condition and Integration of Foreign citizens survey” conducted in 2011–2012, estimate a synthetic index of gender equality, and perform regression models. Results show that migrants coming from Albania and former Yugoslavia have the highest gender equality attitudes among Muslims in Italy, while those coming from Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh have the highest gender disparity attitudes. The years since migration and the acquisition of Italian citizenship depict the acculturation process in the destination country which favor gender equality attitudes. Conversely, the more religious people are the more they are opposed to gender equality in family-related attitudes. However, the gradient of religious communal integration on this issue is more strongly significant than that of subjective religiosity.
This contribution is focused on the immigrant’s re-shaping identity in the integration process through the phenomena of the “doing family” and religious belonging. It provides both theoretical analysis and empirical evidence of relationships between immigrants, the role of religion as a significant dimension of contemporary family migration and integration processes. What happens when people of diverse cultures, values, religion live together? Immigrants who “arrive” continue their life in a place where they do not passively participate over time but become actors. Pressed by the hegemonic culture of the host society, immigrants do not cease to practice their religious and origin cultural expressions. They do not renounce to constitute a family in a foreign contest in which they have to adapt, assimilate lifestyles, observe local laws. Considering the impact of religion and cultural origin values on public and private expression of differences, it is important to consider their role in the integration process. These dynamics have been analyzed in a research study on immigrants’ integration process in Palermo. The analysis, focused on super-conformism and ethnic persistence of the most numerous immigrant communities in the context of analysis (Islamic Ummah and the Indian Dharma) delineated the integration declinations through syncretism and cultural contagions. Immigrants, participate in the construction of a local model of integration in which immigrants, free to express their religious and cultural differences, tend to reduce their perception of minority.
Marriage represents the oldest custom of the status of individuals, covering different situations and being at the crossroads of multiple regulatory systems: the positive law of States, religious and moral standards, but also customary rules. Historically and culturally, the contractual conception of marriage and its modalities, violating women’s freedom, have been some of the elements supporting patriarchy and a “gendered” subjugation: suffice it to consider its configuration in some of the main religious conceptions (canonical, Islamic and Hindu). The revaluation of the female role and the need for its legal protection have recently come to the legal attention of the “Western” world, which has attempted to curb the practice of forced marriages through ad hoc legislative interventions. In Europe, a very important role has been played by the Istanbul Convention of 2011, which prompted many States, not only European, to intervene to counter the phenomenon, starting to use the concept of “gender” as an analytical tool to question the “natural” foundation of many cultural and institutional constructions. With regard to how to prevent forced marriage, possible responses must necessarily be based on four fundamental points: self-determination; the ability to rebel; strict laws; and increased awareness.
After a survey on the essential features of the Islamic child foster care called kafala, the present Chapter investigates how domestic legal systems of Western States have dealt with it, particularly concerning to the right of family reunification and to intercountry adoptions. The Chapter also is aimed at highlighting the consequences of the recognition of the kafala related to the religious freedom of the immigrant’s family, with a special concern to intergenerational transmission of religious values and the religious education of children in host countries.
Immigration separates families and interrupts geographical continuity, friendships and processes of solidarity and mutual trust. Religious experience, on the other hand, can strengthen the sense of personal identity to make these processes even more effective. It is therefore important to explore the role of religious affiliations in the family integration process. This is what the study presented here attempts to do, followed by a specific and in-depth exploration of the maternal role aimed at maintaining the religious dimension as part of migration processes, educational practices, and the process of mediation with host country traditions.
Considering the scarcity of psychological studies on Middle Eastern Christian immigrant families experiences, this chapter aims to explore the post-migration experience of Coptic Orthodox families immigrated from Egypt to Italy and chooses to adopt a family intergenerational perspective to compare narratives of two different family generations (first-generation parents and their second-generation adolescent children). Based on empirical data from 10 Coptic Orthodox families, for a total of 30 interviewed participants (10 first-generation fathers, 10 first-generation mothers, and 10 second-generation adolescent children), the chapter reveals that religiosity in its intertwined individual and social expressions is a salient part of interviewees’ everyday life and an essential source of resilience. However, identity-specific content reveals differences when comparing parents and children’s narratives. While a “diasporic” religious identity seems to emerge among first-generation parents, religious identity among children emphasizes the opposition with a highly secularized and “threatening” Italian society.
This chapter deals with the exceptional case of immigrant religious assimilation in Greece. Within the European context of immigration countries characterised by ongoing secularisation process and immigrant assimilation towards natives’ values and attitudes, Greece is considered as a particular case because of the tendency of immigrants to assimilate towards stronger religious identities of natives. It is argued that such identities concern identification with the nation, which can be instrumental for immigrant’s acceptance and integration in the host society. This can be due to some peculiar characteristics of the Greek social, institutional and political setting which makes national identity and Orthodoxy so interwoven. By investigating the conditions in which such a “strategic assimilation” emerges, this chapter also examines whether the Greek case can be relevant for other countries across Europe, calling up for follow-up studies, especially about the role of religious socialization within-families.
The growing number of “new generations” of Muslims in Western countries is not only developing quantitatively into a complex phenomenon, but also implies gradual but important transformations within the Islamic communities (starting from families and mosques) and in society as a whole. Only a few of these dynamics are described and studied and rarely with a direct knowledge of the people concerned by them.
One of the crucial issues of radicalism lately has been the involvement of family members in acts of terrorism. But families and their role in the radicalization process have not yet received proper attention from researchers, despite the growing interest shown by policy makers in several countries. This chapter provides an overview of the role of families in radicalization. Both research literature and policy and practice consider families as a potential risk of radicalization, as well as a source of protection and rehabilitation. Finally, the chapter highlights the importance of prevention, even a family level. Families may not notice change in family members who are undergoing a process of radicalization and specifically youngster may be at risk of radicalization, because of the long time they spend online.
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