Acculturation and Immigration in the UK | Free Essay Example

Acculturation and Immigration in the UK

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Topic: Sociology
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Introduction: Acculturation as a Phenomenon. Definition, Examples and Expected Outcomes

Immigration has always been associated with several negative issues, starting from the unemployment due to the influx of immigrant labor force to the possibility of cultural conflicts. The issue of immigration, however, is rarely considered from an immigrant. Acculturation is a complicated process that may easily fall into one of the two extremes, i.e., complete assimilation or social ostracism. An analysis of the issues that Mayo, an immigrant in Great Britain, has to deal with, will help shed some light on the problem.

Reasons for choosing the topic: immigrants in the UK

While it has been a while since the issue of immigration was taken off the agenda of the United Kingdom political problems, the number of illegal immigrants is becoming increasingly large in Great Britain., According to the official nationwide statistics, in 2013, the number of legal immigrants arriving annually in the UK reached 139,000 with only 50,000 immigrants leaving the UK every year (Migration Watch UK, 2013, para. 9).

The given numbers create sufficient premises for unemployment and, therefore, an economic crisis. More to the point, illegal immigration is also the reason for concern, with nearly 863,000 illegal immigrants having been living in the United Kingdom by December, 2012 (Dawar, 2012, December 18). More to the point, the issues concerning the acculturation of immigrants in the UK are very upsetting (Bhugra & Becker, 2005); according to the statistical data, there are very few Diasporas that allow immigrants retain their cultural identity; as a result, immigrants either assimilate quickly, or become social outcasts.

Key information and its relevance

Thesis statement

Although the problem of illegal immigration is the key priority in handling the flood of legal and illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom, the issue of acculturation of the people immigrating into Great Britain should also be raised as the reason for having numerous immigrants either deprived of their own culture, or ostracized to the point where they can no longer exist within the British cultural setting.

The interview conducted with a representative of British immigrants shows the outcomes of the aforementioned phenomenon in a very graphic way; according to the results of the interview, the issue can be supposedly solved by providing both legal and especially illegal immigrants state support in creating their communities and offering immigrants decent protection, i.e., providing immigrants with irrefutable rights and freedoms.

Research Information: Background, Methods, Materials, Procedure, Participants, and Layout. Qualitative Approach at Its Best

Research background: acculturation in Great Britain

Legal and especially illegal immigration issue has been touched upon quite a few times by British economists. The problem has been brewing for quite long and researched rather thoroughly, though with minor effects. It should be noted, though, that the issue of immigration into Britain has mostly been considered from an economical point of view up until recently. For example, in his research, Messina (1995) considers mostly the political issues triggered by the massive flow of illegal immigrants into the United Kingdom. Wadswroth (2010) and Hurd (2002), in their turn, evaluate the economical changes that immigrants have induced in Great Britain.

For the most part these researches view the situation from the position of the British citizens, which shows that the problem has been lit in a very one-sided fashion up until recently. New researches view the problem from the position of not only the native residents, but also immigrants, therefore, making it clear that the acculturation issue and the loss of national identity is a major problem that the people moving to the UK have to face at some point and that may be affecting their further economic and financial state.

Methods: why qualitative approach is better than quantitative

When it comes to the choice of research methods, one must mention that the choice between the qualitative and quantitative research methods is not an easy one. Granted that the qualitative research method is traditionally preferred over the quantitative one, it would still be a seemingly good idea to introduce the elements of quantitative analysis into the research; however, for several reasons, the principles of qualitative research have been chosen. The choice was primarily based, however, on the type of material that was required to work on the given research.

Indeed, the given paper deals mostly with personal impressions of particular immigrants than attempts at handling calculations regarding immigration statistics in the United Kingdom. Hence the method of the research was determined. In contrast to a quantitative method, where it is necessary to use statistical or, at the very least, numerical, data, the given paper analyzes the emotions and experiences of people that decided to move to great Britain, as well as considers their experiences.

Materials, participants and procedure: what interviewees have to say

In the given research, two interviews with UK immigrants are going to be used. Speaking of the participants, the given research is going to be based largely on the interviews conducted with two of the representatives of the British illegal immigrants. The first one is Mirela, a 23-year-old waitress, who overstayed her visa as an exchange student and now is in relationships with a British man. The second is Mayo, a forty-five-year-old Zimbabwean married to an English wife and having moved to England with her. The information regarding Mayo’s experience as a Zimbabwean immigrant has been acquired with the help of a personal interview; therefore, Mayo’s answers to the interview questions are going to be used as the key proof for the research hypothesis.

However, the research is not going to be restricted solely to the analysis of Mayo’s experience; also, the statistical data concerning British immigrants, both legal and illegal, as well as the data on the acculturation issues that immigrants face most frequently in Britain, are going to be taken into account. The given data will be retrieved from trustworthy scholarly resources, such as academic journals and reports.

Setting: the realm of the United Kingdom

As it has been stressed above, the research is going to be carried out within the realm of Great Britain. Seeing how the paper is going to revolve around the experience of a single research participant, it would be reasonable to restrict the research to a particular area where the research participants are located now. However, it is still worth taking a broader perspective and evaluating the problem of acculturation on a nationwide perspective.

Layout and key themes: acculturation and its threats

As it can be seen from the explanation above, the paper is going to be focused on the issue of immigration in the United Kingdom. Moreover, the problem of immigration is going to be viewed from the point, which it is considered quite rarely; to be more exact, the paper is going to consider the negative and, possibly, positive effects of acculturation on the people who immigrated into Great Britain from other states.

Needed to drink alcohol

Feels dependent
Is afraid

Culture clash

Lack of appreciation from the wife

sorry, let me get a beer from the fridge…, I’m not coping that well but I often go to the local pub to have a few drinks, I tend to stay there till late as to avoid my nagging wife. She nags everything when she comes home and find the house work not done, most times she threaten to call the immigrationfor me if I don’t do what she wants, she tells me that she own my ‘’ass’’and if I do anything stupid she will get me deported. Personally my wife is very humble and caring but I just don’t know what happened to her since she’s been in the UK. Back home our culture is very different, a woman can never treat a man like my wife is doing to me now…sometimes she loses her respect towards mecompletely. Drinking problem

Insecurity

Fear

Confusion

Loss of self esteem

Financial safety
Cultural assimilation

Culture clash

As the visa expired, Sorina left, but I stayed. Why? Are you serious? I earn £5 an hour. At home, I have to work an entire day to get this kind of money. I learned new things easily. Now I can barely say a couple of words in Romanian– imagine that! I had big plans ahead of me. I don’t even like to think that I come from another state. I want to start a small business. A coffee shop, maybe. Life standards are much higher here than in Romania. I like that. Now (smiles) one can hardly tell that [I am an immigrant]. I’m not even sure myself whether I am one. Certainty

Rejection of cultural heritage loss of cultural identity

Cultural confusion

Results and Their Interpretation: Description, Analysis and Synthesis. The Many Faces of Acculturation

The interviews have revealed several important details regarding immigrants and how they adapt towards the British environment.

Results description: acculturation and the following assimilation vs. cultural discord

As the interview with the interview with the two illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom shows, in most cases, people become illegal immigrants to Great Britain because of family issues and expired visas. According to the first respondent, after the visa had expired, she intended to extend it, since she found life standards of Great Britain more satisfying than the ones in her home country.

As a result, now that she has been living in the United Kingdom for about two years, Mirela seems to have lost the touch with her culture completely, down to the point where she started forgetting her language. As the second respondent explained, his wife was British, which was why he decided to stay in England as she took him to the state of her origin. Unable to find a good job and earn more than his wife, Mayo felt humiliated.

Results analysis: factors inducing the key threats and the means to address them

When it comes to defining the key factors that affect immigrants’ assimilation and loss of identity, or, on the contrary, complete isolation from the rest of the state as a result of an attempt to retain the traditional cultural values, economical issues should be mentioned first. Indeed, according to the interview, the fact that he does not have a regular job and, therefore, a relatively stable salary, upsets Mayo most. In his attempt to integrate into the British society faster, he did not take the cultural factor into account and, as a result, was labeled as an immigrant who was attempting at taking people’s jobs away very soon. As a result, he was left completely helpless without the means to earn for a living and depending on his wife completely.

Mirela’s case, however, is the other extreme. Her experience has shown clearly that, once an immigrant loses the touch with his/her community, (s)he faces the threat of losing the national and cultural identity completely. Her case shows how badly immigrants need the support of a Diaspora that provides them with a link to their culture and traditions.

Therefore, the process of acculturation within the British society is very delicate for immigrants, especially illegal ones, and can be easily switched to its most dangerous extremes, which are either complete assimilation, or, on the contrary, the phenomenon of differentiation and the following ostracism of the immigrants within the British society. In Britain, illegal and even legal immigrants are in a no-win situation; they are either supposed to accept the specifics of the British culture and bear with it, gradually forgetting the elements of their own identity, or to fight the process of assimilation and, therefore, be doomed to the label of an “immigrant” and a “cultural outcast.”

The situation turns even more drastic, however, when cultural discords affect family life. As Mayo explained, in his culture, it is inappropriate for a man to be ordered around by a woman and to be completely dependent on her. Therefore, the issue of control and dependency should also be touched upon as one of the recurrent themes in the interview with Mayo. His wife forces him to do all sorts of chores and practically turns him into her slave with no legal repercussions whatsoever, since, once Mayo is officially recognized as an illegal immigrant, he will be deported from the state immediately.

Defining the factors that have affected Mayo’s current situation, one must mention several basic elements that have affected his life the most as he moved to the United Kingdom. First, the economical factor seems to have become the defining one in his cultural and psychological change is the economic dependence on his wife. Therefore, at first glance, it might seem that the economic factor is the key to the problem of illegal immigrants in Great Britain.

However, when taking a closer look at Mao’s situation, one will be able to spot the fact that he is practically isolated culturally from the rest of the citizens. He does not belong to any local immigrants Diaspora, he spends most of his time without communication, except for the times when he has to talk to his wife; in his case, the process of acculturation has been thrown into another extreme, where he became unable to create any cultural ties with the new community. Hence Mayo’s key problem stems; incapable of fitting in, he feels completely helpless and, worse yet, absolutely useless.

Synthesis: an overview of the situation and the search for solutions

The interview with Mayo, however, also provides a plethora of useful information that can be utilized to search for the means to improve the situation. Seeing how the key problem regarding Mayo’s situation is linked directly to the incompatibility of his cultural belief and the ones that are accepted within the British community, it is reasonable to suggest that new avenues for helping immigrants accept the British culture should be created.

The process of acculturation, however, needs to be improved considerably, since, when left unattended, the given process may result in even more drastic outcomes, as Mirela’s case shows. It should be noted, though, that the given conflict should be solved on several levels. By addressing the problem of acculturation on such levels as family, state and economical ones, one can expect that the issue will be solved in the most efficient way possible, which the creation of Diasporas will hallow for.

To start with, it is important that the communication between the spouses should flow easily and unceasingly, and that every possible issue should be discussed until it brews to become a conflict. When taking a closer look at Mayo’s situation, one may spot that in his case, his wife never explained to him that British culture is any different from the one of his country; nor did he attempt at learning anything about his wife’s cultural heritage. Therefore, the significance of marital bonds, communication between a husband and a wife and trust between the spouses should be considered for the families with the members of different cultural descend.

Also, addressing the problem of “social uselessness” that the interviewed raised, one must add that it is highly recommended to create more job opportunities for unemployed immigrants in Britain. A challenge both in economical and financial aspects, the given step is crucial for immigrants to feel that they are valued in the British society and are capable of contributing to it. Perhaps, it would be reasonable to provide immigrants with a chance to apply for not only the jobs that seem unattractive to a British citizen due to low salary or extremely poor working conditions, but also “white collar” jobs, which will help an immigrant use the skills that he acquired in his home country to earn for a living in Britain.

The given step, however, calls for creating language courses for immigrants, as well as courses designed to train immigrants’ professional skills. It can be assumed that, with the introduction of a strong immigrant Diaspora into the realm of Great Britain, it will be possible to tackle the issue concerning acculturation and provide more opportunities for people from other states in terms of the acculturation process.

Conclusion: Effects of Acculturation in the United Kingdom. Learning to Fight the Obstacles

Immigrants in the United Kingdom suffer greatly from various types of injustice; family pressure is also a major issue, as the results of the interview conducted with Mayo show. Leading to drastic results of people losing their confidence and feeling completely useless, the given effects of immigrants’ treatment in Great Britain must be dealt with. To terminate the effects of either acculturation or the following assimilation with the crowd, or the complete social isolation and the following dependency on a particular person, as in Mayo’s and Mirela’s cases, it is crucial to reconsider policies in the treatment of immigrants and provide the latter with more opportunities for social engagement and professional evolution, which can be carried out by creating Diasporas for immigrants.

Appendix A: Interview Questions

  1. How did you happen to come to the UK?
  2. Can you tell me what it was like moving to the UK?
  3. How did you feel when you first came to the UK?
  4. How are you coping with life in the UK?
  5. Has being in the UK matched your expectations?
  6. How do you see yourself in the future?
  7. Tell me more about what was the best thing coming to the UK.
  8. Tell me what was the worst thing coming to the UK.

Appendix B: Interview with Mayo

Interviewer: How did you happen to come to the UK?

Mayo: …Hmmm, well, I was working hard back home so that my wife could come here first with our daughter and for me to follow later, so basically I just followed my wife on a 6 months visitors visa 5 years later after she has settled in the UK.

Interviewer: Can you tell me what it was like moving to the UK?

Mayo: (Smile) it was stressful at first because I was thinking about my house back home and everything else I have left behind back home. Everything was moving fast when I came, it was like I was in some sort of alien world. I kept thinking to myself if my wife still has love for me after all these years apart from each other. It felt a bit strange.

Interviewer: How did you feel when you first came to the UK?

Mayo: I felt like a slave in my wife’s house. For the first 4 weeks she kept me in the house, she was going to work and I have to stay home to look after the kid, I did all the domestic work in the house, even when she is off from work she made me cook and do everything in the house to even wash her clothes…tear drops in eyes…I felt like going back home but I couldn’t as I want to stay with her and make everything work for us as a family.

Interviewer: How are you coping with life in the UK?

Mayo: …sorry, let me get a beer from the fridge…, I’m not coping that well but I often go to the local pub to have a few drinks, I tend to stay there till late as to avoid my nagging wife. She nags everything when she comes home and find the house work not done, most times she threaten to call the immigration for me if I don’t do what she wants, she tells me that she own my ”ass” and if I do anything stupid she will get me deported. Personally my wife is very humble and caring but I just don’t know what happened to her since she’s been in the UK. Back home our culture is very different, a woman can never treat a man like my wife is doing to me now…sometimes she loses her respect towards me completely.

Interviewer: Has being in the UK matched your expectations?

Mayo: Noooo, (sipping on the beer) it has made my life miserable, I can’t find a job because I don’t have legal papers to work, my wife is refusing to go ahead with my application form because she feels like once I get my papers I will gain my freedom and leave

Interviewer: How do you see yourself in the future?

Mayo: I see myself going back home, I see the future is much more brighter for me back home, yes I will have to start again with my life but I guess it’s better than staying here, being controlled and just become useless in society

Interviewer: Tell me more about what the best thing coming to the UK was.

Mayo: ‘’Laugh and cry’’…seeing my wife and daughter again after 5 years was the best thing coming to the UK

Interviewer: Tell me what the worst thing coming to the UK was.

Mayo: …Sad face…everything about my wife

Appendix C: Interview with Mirela

Interviewer: How did you happen to come to the UK?

Mirela: (Speaking in a thick Cockney accent) I was one of the best students at high school, and the Principal suggested us an exchange program. It wasn’t too expensive, so me and my friend decided to try it. As the visa expired, Sorina (her friend. – editor’s note) left, but I stayed. Why? Are you serious? I earn £5 an hour. At home, I have to work an entire day to get this kind of money.

Interviewer: Can you tell me what it was like moving to the UK?

Mirela: It was nothing special. I learned new things easily. Now I can barely say a couple of words in Romanian – imagine that!

Interviewer: How did you feel when you first came to the UK?

Mirela: Excited. I had big plans ahead of me.

Interviewer: How are you coping with life in the UK?

Mirela: It’s tough, but I get by.

Interviewer: Has being in the UK matched your expectations?

Mirela: In fact, it surpassed my expectations. I don’t even like to think that I come from another state.

Interviewer: How do you see yourself in the future?

Mirela: As a very tired waitress (laughs). Seriously, though, I want to start a small business. A coffee shop, maybe.

Interviewer: Tell me more about what the best thing coming to the UK was.

Mirela: Life standards are much higher here than in Romania. I like that.

Interviewer: Tell me what the worst thing coming to the UK was.

Mirela: (Frowns) Being reminded that you are an outsider. However, now (smiles) one can hardly tell that. I’m not even sure myself whether I am one.

Appendix D: Table of Themes

Mayo (1) Mirela (2)
Practical
Compliant: loss of culture Back home our culture is very different Now I can barely say a couple of words in Romanian.
Engaged: inability to find good job , I can’t find a job because I don’t have legal papers to work
Family violence I will have to start again with my life but I guess it’s better than staying here, being controlled and just become useless in society.
Isolated It was like I was in some sort of alien world. I don’t even like to think that I come from another state. (fear of being isolated)
Humiliated: feeling useless compared to a more successful family member Sometimes she loses her respect towards me completely.
Confused I’m not coping that well but I often go to the local pub to have a few drinks.

Reference List

Bhugra, D. & Becker, M. A. (2005). Migration, cultural bereavement and cultural identity. World Psychiatry, 4(1), 18–24.

Dawar, A. (2012). Scandal of UK’s 863,000 illegal immigrants…one in four of the EU’s total. Express. Web.

Hurd, S. (2002). Immigration and the UK labor market. Teaching Business and Economics, 6(2), 3–11.

Messina, A. M. (1995). Immigration as a political dilemma in Britain: Implications for Western Europe. Policy Studies Journal 23(4), 686–698.

Migration Watch UK (2012). Migration watch UK evidence to MAC review on low skilled work. Web.

Wadswroth, J. (2010). The UK labor market and immigration. National Institute Economic Review, 213(1), R35–R42.