Monday, 14 November 2022

The social integration of migrant families

A study by researchers of the Center for Social Inequality Studies (Csis) has been published in Demographic Research

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When it comes to the division of routine housework, do couples with a migrant background maintain the traditions of their country of origin or are they influenced by those of the receiving country? And is this going to change over time?

"Culture portability" from the country of origin to the destination country has recently been the subject of study at international level. Some argue that the assimilation and integration process makes migrants more and more similar to people in the countries of arrival, others suggest that some inequalities remain, and therefore that there is a permanent resistance to integration.

The research work conducted by the group of researchers of the Center for Social Inequality Studies (Csis) of the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Trento, which has recently been published in Demographic Research, confirms the importance of cultural and traditional aspects in the division of domestic work in families with a migrant background, but also reveals that these families in Italy, by changing and learning, are making progress towards social integration.

Couples arriving to Italy, according to the study, come with their cultural background in terms of division of housework and childcare tasks. Those from countries where there is gender equality tend to share the housework in a rather balanced way. Likewise, those who are used to an unequal division of labour, with women bearing most of the burden of housework, tend to maintain it. Over time, however, things change. The longer migrant couples have been living in Italy, the more they tend to abandon the old habits and to adopt the division of roles typical of Italian families. “There are couples where equality has increased after years in Italy compared with their situation in the country of origin, but there are also couples that have adopted the inequalities typical of Italian families in the division of housework and childcare. This means that individual situations, family management, family links and the opportunities offered by the country of arrival are more influential than the deeply rooted social and constructivist models determined by culture and values”.

The authors of the article are Elisa Brini, postdoc researcher at the Csis when the study was conducted and now researcher at Oslo University, Anna Zamberlan, PhD candidate of the Doctoral School of Social Sciences, and Paolo Barbieri, professor of the Department of Sociology and Social Research, coordinator of the Csis and director of the Doctoral School.

“Based on several data sources (including the SCIF survey on the Social Condition and Integration of Foreign Citizens, Istat), we examined the extent to which the division of household labour between immigrant partners living in Italy relates to gender equity in their country of origin. Besides, we also analyzed the changing importance of gender equity in the country of origin at different lengths of stay in the destination country”.
The researchers commented: “Our study contributes to the literature on gender inequalities by providing new evidence on the relationship between culture of origin and the division of specific housework and childcare tasks in families with a migrant background”.


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