What factors determine whether and how migrants from Asian and Indian backgrounds in the U.S. community stay in touch with their homeland and culture?
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In addressing the issue outlined above, major work has been completed so far. A literature review of the existing trustworthy sources on the issue of immigration has been conducted, focusing on the factors that encourage immigration. In addition, the current trends in the global community, and the challenges that have been inspired by a rise in immigration levels have emerged. Studies indicate that there are several sociocultural, socioeconomic, and sociopolitical factors that lead to the decision to immigrate. Specifically, the presence of military unrest and continuous, life-threatening interventions in the target setting are likely to become factors in shaping one’s attitude toward immigration.
Overview of Literature Review
Several studies prove that the passage of time and especially the changes in generations define immigrants’ willingness and even ability to stay in touch with their homelands (Wessel, Andersson, Kauppinen and Andersen, 2017). Countries’ political profiles are another important factor in shaping immigrants’ ability to maintain their connections to their homelands. Specifically, sociopolitical factors play an important part in the process (Lee and Kye, 2016). These factors include the propensity toward alienating people that have moved to another country from the changes that a state might be experiencing as a result of its political struggles. The research by Ahmadov and Sasse (2016) posits that the development of transnational engagement and, therefore, the ability to view one’s transition from one political environment to another are only possible when developing elaborate immigrant networks.
Addressing the socio economic factors that define immigrants’ ability to reconnect and reconcile with their homeland is another important step in understanding the challenges that the target demographic faces. Namely, the patterns of selection and assimilation among refugees in Sweden, the U.S., and Israel show that the process is very quick and natural, causing the target demographic to switch to the perception of key economic processes and tasks as they are accepted within the target country (Birgier, Lundh, Haberfeld and Elldér, 2016). As a result, immigrants find it increasingly hard to reconnect with their homeland and its economic struggles, as well as its unique interpretation of economic relationships between its citizens. Apart from the obvious unwillingness to return to a setting that offers a lesser degree of economic security, the factor of innate understanding of the key economic processes and the role of an individual in said processes also plays a huge part in shaping immigrants’ attitudes toward their homeland. As a result, the ability to reconnect to their roots and return to the socioeconomic and sociocultural perspectives of their homeland is gradually lost on immigrants.
Studies also indicate that the political effects of immigration are quite vast both on the people that move to other countries and the states that receive migrants. The challenges that one is likely to experience during the acculturation process, the issues associated with the dissonance between how the native language sounds and compared to the new one, and other similar factors will have a direct influence on the people that immigrate to other states in pursuit of political stability and a more reliable political situation. At the same time, it would be wrong to select solely the cases that imply the basic impossibility for an individual to live in the native country as the main prerequisite to the decision to move to a foreign country.
Likewise, research points out that the factors determining immigrants’ willingness to sustain their culture when moving to a different state are quite nuanced. Although the vast majority of immigrants tend to have nostalgic feelings for their state and culture, their willingness to move back to their country of origin may stay low due to the negative memories associate with it (Drouhot and Nee, 2019).
Moreover, research also points to the fact that increased opportunities for extending immigrants’ political activity in the recipient country affect their intentions to move to the state where their opinions concerning the direction of the state’s political development, as well as their activism, are often ignored or taken for granted (Mwangi and English, 2017). Therefore, even in the scenarios in which immigrants no longer face an immediate threat when returning to their home country, the willingness to do so or to embrace one’s cultural legacy may be driven to zero (Kostareva et al., 2020). One might claim that the specified outcome stems from the inability to differentiate between cultural and political life within a state. However, as outlined above, the specified factors rarely produce an effect on an individual separately (Guarnizo, Chaudhary, and Sørensen 2019). As a result, the intention to embrace one’s cultural legacy and seek opportunities to reconcile with one’s cultural legacy is often driven to zero.
In retrospect, the literature review of the issue at hand has shown that there is a significant gap in the study of the factors that shape immigrants’ ability to reconnect with their cultural roots. Although the issues of acculturation and assimilation have been extensively explored as processes that lead to immigrants losing their cultural ties with their native communities, there is little research into which of the factors behind this phenomenon have the greatest impact.
The overview of the existing literature on the subject also shows that the intricacy of migrant networks within a recipient state has a tangible influence on whether migrants are willing to reconnect with their cultures and legacies. However, while there is no doubt that the specified networks have influence, the effects are debatable. Some of the studies point to the fact that the presence of these migrant networks allows migrants to maintain their connections to their cultural roots—hence their willingness to keep a close connection to their cultural roots and their resulting acceptance of their cultural origins. Thus, a well-developed migrant network permits people to sustain their cultural knowledge and legacy, multiplying it and contributing to its development even after they have lived away for home for years or even decades (Wright, 2017).
However, the described phenomenon might also have the opposite effect when a network of migrant workers has fully assimilated and allows new members to dissolve in the cultural setting of the recipient country. Although this phenomenon is less common than the previous one, it is still a possible direction for the development of cultural attachments to take (Oliveira and Carvalhais, 2017). Therefore, it is important to explore the philosophy of a local migrant community and the cultural foundation on which it stands before defining it as an instantly positive factor for fostering the development of cultural attachment to an immigrant’s native land.
Remarkably, a range of researchers also posits that the factors affecting immigrants’ ability to maintain a connection to their homelands are defined not by a separate set of political, economic, or cultural factors, but by a combination of those. Namely, the need to introduce the social dimension to each of the influences that define immigrants’ ability to reconnect with their roots has to be acknowledged. Hence, when discussing the influences on immigrants’ ability to maintain their cultural authenticity, one will need to talk about sociopolitical, socioeconomic, and sociocultural factors (Paparusso and Ambrosetti, 2017). The specified perspective both complicates the analysis and introduces new opportunities. Namely, the complexity of relationships between the key factors can be established more accurately, with much more detailed commentaries concerning the links between the variables at hand.
The phenomenon of immigration has existed since time immemorial due to conflicts that occur within a community and the subsequent drop in access to resources for some members. Therefore, immigration often serves as the means of escaping the conditions that include life-threatening factors or reduce the quality of life drastically.
Nevertheless, it is important to define the factors that shape immigrants’ decisions to keep in touch with their native state and culture. Although the answers to the specified questions may be found when approaching the problem from a case-by-case perspective, the lack of a framework for understanding what drives immigrants away from their culture and leads to their complete assimilation may result in the threat of cultures being erased as people immigrate to other states.
Thus, the problem of the loss of connection between immigrants and their home states needs to be examined as a common problem observed frequently in the environment of recipient states.
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The issue at hand can be supported by two separate case studies addressing the problem of reconnecting with one’s homeland while being an immigrant. First, the study focusing on the challenges of an Indian person trying to regain cultural contact with their roots in the context of an American community will have to be considered. The research by Jain (2019) proves that Indian migrants manage to reconnect with their homeland by exploring their cultural and national identity, as well as missing their native environment.
Another case to be analyzed is a scenario that involves an Asian person attempting to maintain the relation to their native land. Alongside the language barrier experienced by immigrants in the U.S., in general, and the specified demographic, in particular, one will need to take sociocultural socioeconomic factors into account. Specifically, the case study will indicate that the willingness of the specified demographic to reconnect their native land is defined by the acculturative stress and the presence of impediments toward employment and comfortable life (Lueck and Wilson, 2010).
Methods and Data
The exploration of the factors that contribute to immigrants’ willingness and ability to reconnect with their cultural roots, as well as the ones that inhibit them from doing so, needs to be conducted as a qualitative study for several reasons. First and most obvious, there is no need to quantify the research outcomes in order to locate the key factors that define immigrants’ intentions. Secondly, the very nature of the study appears to be rooted in the qualitative analysis of the said factors and the exploration of qualitative relationships between them. Although the presence of a cause-and-effect relationship between the specified variables cannot be denied, the focus of this research remains on the search for every possible sociopolitical, socioeconomic, and sociocultural factor that may invite immigrants to reconnect with their homeland. Since comparing the intensity of the specified forces or performing any other quantification procedure is currently irrelevant to the study, the research can be deemed qualitative.
Given the scope and scale of the study in question, the use of phenomenology is required to establish the nature of the factors affecting immigrants’ decision to stay or leave. The main advantage of the selected research design is that it allows starting without a clearly delineated hypothesis and allows determining the relationships between the variables as the study develops. Therefore, the application of phenomenological design to this research will help to discover each of the key factors defining immigrants’ ability to reconnect to their roots one by one. Although phenomenology as a study design has its problems, it is expected to provide an opportunity to encompass a wide range of independent variables that define immigrants’ connection to their native land.
Several limitations of phenomenology as a research design need to be outlined before proceeding with the analysis. The increased subjectivity of research outcomes is the main bias that may lead to questioning the legitimacy of the entire research unless the specified biases are addressed accordingly. Although removing them entirely from the research is impossible, one can reduce the extent of subjectivity by considering adding a wider range of data sources to the presumptuous nature of the specified research design. As a result, the study will encompass a sufficient number of opinions on the subject matter, providing a more accurate account of the factors that influence immigrants’ abilities to reconnect with their native lands. As long as the participants sign informed consent, no ethical issues are expected to occur during research.
Therefore, the issues of validity and reliability of research results need to be reinforced by considering a large number of data sources. Given the nature of the study, the specified position will demand to be very careful with the choice of the tools for data collection, as well as the types and sources of data to be included in the study. Specifically, this research will use narratives in semi-structured interviews. The latter will have to take a semi-structured form to keep the participants on the topic, while simultaneously allowing them to wander into a wider area of self-exploration.
However, the strengths of phenomenology, primarily, the availability of data that is rich in crucial pieces of information and the chance to develop a profoundly strong understanding of the phenomenon at hand are also worthy of mentioning. The specified advantages of phenomenology allow the factors that define immigrants’ abilities and willingness to reconnect emotionally with their cultures and native countries to be studied more closely.
To ensure that the obtained information is analyzed objectively, a rather large sample size will have to be selected for the research. Namely, ten interviews will be conducted to obtain information on the required diversity rate and with enough variance to ensure that the data can be analyzed objectively. The sampling process, in turn, will have to be based on the principles of purposive sampling so that the selected participants could meet the set criteria and, at the same time, present as much variety as possible. Thus, the threat of subjectivity will be diminished significantly, whereas the outcomes of the study will become much more credible.
To process the information collected from the semi-structured interviews, one will need a coding system that will allow categorizing the located variables and relationships between them. Namely, after having interviews with participants, one will have to work with the obtained text by developing a system of codes for determining key tendencies and trends observed in it. Afterward, a decoding approach will be utilized to identify the essential themes and evaluate their role in the willingness to reconnect with their native roots in immigrants. The results are expected to show a prevalence of acculturation among immigrants that live separately and have integrated into local communities. In turn, a smaller range of factors is expected to influence broader groups of people that live abroad in their closed circles.
The data analysis will also involve the use of basic descriptive statistics to show the extent to which each factor affects the willingness of the participants to retain their cultural identity while living in a foreign environment. The role of internal and external socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural factors will be established after the assessment of data. It is believed that the initial question asked in this research will return the answers that will indicate the importance of factors, such as the political environment of the sending and receiving states, as well as the network of migrant relationships within the receiving state, play the greatest role in determining immigrants’ unwillingness to reconnect with their culture and native land. However, it is also presumed that additional factors will be discovered in the course of research.
It is also believed that the research will require taking certain costs. Namely, to obtain the necessary resources and reach the interviewees, one will need to spare a certain amount of money. Currently, it is believed that a total of $2,000 will suffice for the study (see Table 1). The specified expenses will be funded by the external funding agency.
Table 1. Expenses
It is expected that the research will take approximately 10 months (see Table 2 below).
Table 2. Timeline
The research implies dealing with several ethical concerns. Namely, the problem of information objectivity may arise due to the use of interviews which may imply that the communication could be steered in the way in which the researcher wants to direct it or interpreted in the manner that meets the research assumptions. To avoid the specified ethical concerns, one will have to introduce additional tools for increasing objectivity, such as the use of a second opinion in interpreting data.
It is believed that the study will allow improving the quality of lives of immigrants from Asia and India in the U.S. environment. Moreover, the research will help to understand how to approach the needs of immigrants from the said countries in American communities. As a result, the relationships between immigrants and the rest of American society will improve, and the former will not feel as ostracized and isolated anymore.
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Drouhot, L. G. and Nee, V. (2019) ‘Assimilation and the second generation in Europe and America: blending and segregating social dynamics between immigrants and natives’, Annual Review of Sociology, 45, pp. 177–199.
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