Integration for Second-Generation Immigrants
Info: 21111 words (84 pages) Dissertation
Published: 10th Dec 2019
|Foreign at home – integration for second-generation immigrants|
|A qualitative case study on how social, economic and political structures impact integration for second-generation Afghan immigrants in the Islamic Republic of Iran|
AbstractDiasporas of second-generation migrants are a growing phenomenon globally, and could be one of today’s most important, yet one of the less prioritized fields of research within migration studies. Through investigating what factors that facilitate and/or hinder the integration process of Afghans in Iran, divided into social, economic and political structures of society, this study fills an empirical and theoretical research gap. Moreover, methodologically the study contributes through using qualitative data from interviews with second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran together with expert interviews. The factors are strongly interlinked when creating Afghans as a group of “others”, but yet they play different roles in shaping the integration process. Iranian citizenship is stressed to be the most pressing need in order to create a sustainable integration for second-generation Afghan immigrants, since this factor seems to hinder integration in the social and economic structure as well as putting a threat of deportation on the migrants. The lack of citizenship, together with the “othering” in the society, influences the second-generation Afghan immigrants to leave Iran, which makes this thesis not only relevant from a local but also from a global perspective and can help to understand and foresee migration waves. Table of content Abstract Acknowledgment List of Abbreviations List of Figures List of Appendix Disclaimer 1 Introduction 1.1 Relevance 1.2 Purpose and aim 1.2.1 Research problem and research question 1.3 Definition of integration 1.4 Outline 2 Previous research 2.1 Research on integration of second-generation immigrants 2.2 Identified research gap and scientific relevance 3 Description of case 3.1 Bilateral relation between Iran and Afghanistan 3.2 Migration policies 3.2.1 Registration system 3.3 The Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees 4 Theoretical Framework 4.1 Othering and integration 4.2 Structures and actors 4.3 Applying othering on social, economic and political structures 4.3.1 How othering effects integration in the social structure 4.3.2 Economic structures creating class-based society 4.3.3 Political structure and how citizenship shapes membership 4.4 Operationalization of terms 5 Methodology 5.1 Material 5.2 Interviews and sampling 5.3 Ethical considerations - positionality and reflexivity 5.4 Trustworthiness 5.5 Empirical restrictions 5.6 Use of findings 6 Empirical findings and analysis 6.1 Social structure – perception and social acceptance among civil society and local authorities 6.1.1 Othering in the civil society 6.1.2 How othering influence identity formation 6.1.3 How othering influence social networks 6.1.4 How othering influence the local authorities & the trust towards them 6.2 Economic structure – Economic opportunities and social class through employment and education 6.2.1 Employment 6.2.2 Education 6.2.3 How the relation between the education sector and the labour market affect integration 6.3 The political structure – how citizenship & deportation impact integration 6.3.1 Citizenship 6.3.2 Deportation 7 Conclusions 7.1 Othering and integration in the social, economic and political structures – factors that facilitate and/or hinder the integration process 7.2 What can we learn from this case? 7.3 Steps forward 8 Broaden the perspectives – why local integration is of global interest 9 Reference list Appendix 1: List of respondents and informants Appendix 2: Interview guide to respondents, second-gen Afghan immigrants
List of AbbreviationsDRC – Danish Refugee Council IOM – International Organization for Migration MoI - Ministry of Interior NRC – Norwegian Refugee Council SSAR - Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees UN – United Nations UNAMA – United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan UNHCR – United Nations High Commission for Refugees WFP – World Food Programme
List of FiguresFigure 1: Illustration of how the three structures influence integration. Page: 12 Figure 2: Illustration of the different concepts applied in each structure. Page: 24 Figure 3: Illustration of how factors should be formed to create the dream scenario for integration in Iran. Page: 50
List of AppendixAppendix 1: List of respondents and informants. Page: 65 Appendix 2: Interview guide to respondents, second-generation Afghan immigrants. Page: 66
DisclaimerResources such as transcriptions of interviews or field notes are available upon request. For more detailed information on date, location etc. of the interviews referred to in this study, please see Appendix 1 page 66.
1 IntroductionMigration has been, is and continues to be a constant feature of the globalized world and is both an effect and a cause to broader development processes. The increasing global mobility in combination with factors that attract or forces people to move to new countries constantly impact the demography of the world. In 2015, 3,3 % of the worlds population, or 244 million individuals lived outside of their country of origin (UNFPA, n.d). Consequently, integration, when the immigrated population is treated equal to locals in all structures of society, continues to be a constant subject for the political debate, policy objectives, academic research and many people’s everyday reality (Ager and Strang, 2008:166). “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul”, the French philosopher Simone Weil said in 1942 (Malkki, 1992:24). “To be rooted” is a symbolic metaphor for the “belonging” to a geographical position and hard to reach without equal and sustainable integration. Therefore, factors that influence integration is not only interesting, but also necessary, to focus on in order to understand integration processes and migration flows. This study uses qualitative interviews with respondents and informants in Tehran, the capital of Iran, to study how social, economic and political structures within the Iranian society influence the integration process of second-generation Afghan immigrants. Through dividing the analysis into these three structures the multiple factors of what facilitate and hinder integration are identified and elaborated upon. In acknowledging that integration is a two-way process, meaning that it is both the efforts made by the host country as well as the efforts made by the immigrants that construct integration situations and processes, the complexity of integration in the context of Iran is discussed. The findings of this study illustrate what factors exist within social, economic and political structures that influence integration for immigrants in the specific context of Iran and thus what risks, consequences and opportunities that could be expected, locally in Iran as well as globally. Furthermore, the conclusions will present that integration has to go beyond practical aspects and that the core of the integration process is closely connected to equality, and thus to have equal opportunities, treatment and freedoms as the local population. By answering the research question, this study will help to, not only fill a gap in the academic field but also, share light on how being seen and treated as “others” in different structures of the society can influence migrants interest to stay and integrate and thus change a country from a migrant-receiving country to a transit country.
1.1 RelevanceThere is limited knowledge and research focused on how integration works or does not work in non-western countries and there is especially an existing research gap on the topic of second-generation immigrants (UNHCR, 2015). Since Western countries have different economic possibilities, history, international relations and demographic composition, findings focused on these countries are not transferable to non-western contexts, which strengthen the need of the geographical focus of this study. The reason why Iran is not only an interesting, but also an important, exemplary case when looking at integration for second-generation migrants is multifaceted. Firstly, due to insecurity, poverty, internal conflict and political tensions in Afghanistan, migration from the country has, during the past three decades, been one of the largest refugee movements in the history of the modern times. This has made Iran the world’s fourth largest migrant-receiving country with one of the most long-staying refugee populations (WFP, 2015). Iran’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) estimates that the approximate total number of Afghan immigrants in the country is around 3 million, where roughly half are unregistered (Hajimohammadi & Dulai, 2014, Koepke, 2011). Secondly, the composition of migrants in Iran is unique since the long-term settlement, young age structure and high fertility have resulted in that half of the Afghan diaspora is born in Iran. This has created a shift in composition of the Afghan group in Iran with the emergence of a large group of second-generation Afghan immigrants with special opportunities and aspirations. The second-generation Afghan immigrants are a transition group, standing in the crossroad of the influence and interaction between the host country and the country of origin (Abbasi-Shavazi et al., 2012: 829), which makes them a particularly interesting demographic group to study, especially in relation to integration. Thirdly, the migration policies in Iran are unique in many ways and can give interesting insights to how a growing second-generation migrant group is handled and how that influences their reality and integration process. Fourthly, Iran is a non-western country and thus it makes a good example when filling the research gap on integration in non-western contexts. Since an increased number of second-generation migrants most probably will be a growing phenomenon in many migrant-receiving countries, using Iran as an exemplary case makes it possible to apply the findings and conclusions on the broader concept of integration and bring research closer to an understanding of what hinders and facilitates the integration process for second-generation immigrants worldwide. Together, these aspects highlight the societal relevance of this study. Furthermore, this study has a scientific relevance since it methodologically will base its findings on qualitative interviews and theoretically will look at integration through combining three societal structures; social, economic and political, which have not been done in this context before. The findings of this study will therefore be possible, not only for Iran but also other countries, to compare with, apply on or use as a backdrop in order to widen the knowledge in how societal structures affects the integration process of second-generation immigrants.
1.2 Purpose and aimIn focusing on integration, or lack thereof, in a non-western country such as Iran, the interest of this study is to gain and share new perspectives on integration as a concept and process. Few studies have focused on the integration of immigrants in Iran in general and on second-generation Afghan immigrants in particular, which this study thus seeks to deepen the knowledge in. The purpose of this study is twofold. Firstly, the study is identifying factors that hinder and facilitate the integration process on a political, social and economic level. Secondly, it looks at what integration actually means and how the integration process affects the aspirations of the migrant diaspora. The concept “othering” refers to when individuals, usually based on race or nationality, are grouped together and viewed as “the others” and thus perceived as the opposite to what is considered “us”. Othering will be used throughout the study when looking at how treatment of second-generation migrants affects their integration patterns in society. By investigating the case of Iran, this study will also contribute to the bigger field of global development and especially international migration and integration since it will reflect on social experiences in relation to policies and treatment of migrants, which will be connected to global structures and the current migration situation worldwide.
1.2.1 Research problem and research questionThe procedure is to firstly explore what factors that exist within social, economic and political structures and secondly to examine and analyse how these factors influence the integration process of second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran. In reaching this understanding, the research design revolves around the following research question;
- What factors facilitate and/or hinder the second-generation Afghan immigrants to integrate in the Iranian society?
1.3 Definition of integrationThe principal stance in this study is that integration, despite its complexity, is something positive to strive for, both for the host country itself, the local community and the migrants. The term integration is possible to apply on any relation between groups in a society but is mostly associated with integration between immigrants and the local population, which constitutes the only form of integration that this study will focus on. The lack of a juridical definition of the term integration results in that many scholars have tried to create a definition of the concept. Crisp (2004) refers to local integration as “a process which leads to a durable situation for refugees”. However, migrants and refugees can, in cases where countries have problems with integration, face discrimination in all its forms but still, nevertheless, have a “durable situation”. Simultaneously, “new-comers” could theoretically be totally integrated in a society but still not have a “durable” living situation, which makes Crisp’s definition somewhat insufficient. Yet another attempt to define the concept is made by Hopkins (2011:21), who argues, “real integration equates to recapturing a level of life one enjoyed prior to flight”. However, in cases where the migrant or refugee has fled from poor or dangerous living conditions, this definition does not make that much sense since the aim of leaving a dangerous situation is to arrive somewhere safer with better living conditions. This definition is also hard to apply on second-generation migrants since they are born in the host country. Integration is sometimes confused with assimilation. Assimilation refers to when the immigrated population has to adjust to local norms and values and thus adopt their culture, language, traditions, etcetera, according to the host society’s preferences (Entzinger, 2014, Schinkel, 2013). However, integration is not about migrants changing their characteristics to be more similar to the local population. Instead, integration should be understood as a two-way process where individuals with foreign roots are to be included in parts of the society and thus the diversity that they bring to the host society is embraced. In this regard, this study argues that the objective with a successful integration process should neither be to create a “durable situation” nor recapture the previous living standards. Instead, it is important that the immigrated obtain living standards, rights and possibilities equal to that of the local citizens. Consequently, this study defines integration as a concept where equality ought to be the goal of the integration process in all structures of society. The responsibility for integration to take place lies both in the host society but also in the migrants themselves, creating a challenging two-way balance. This definition will be used throughout the study when dealing with integration.
1.4 OutlineThe outline of this study is as follows; the following section will explain the previous research on integration of second-generation immigrants, its findings and the existing research gap together with how this study will help to fill this gap. Thereafter, the historical relations and migration history between Afghanistan and Iran, and the current migration policies will be described. The theoretical framework will explain the concepts and theories used for each structure. Thereafter, the methodological chapter will describe how this study has collected and analysed its data and how concepts are operationalized within the study. The findings in the analysis are divided between social, economic and political structures and investigate how different factors influence the integration process. Finally, the conclusions will answer the research questions and further highlight what we can learn from this case when trying to understand integration and recommendations for future research. Moreover, chapter 8 will widen the perspective and stress how local integration and global migration are connected and why this is important to understand.
2 Previous research
2.1 Research on integration of second-generation immigrantsIn the field of migration research, the interest for integration patterns among second-generation immigrants has increased in the past years (see for example: Berry et al., 2006; Abbasi-Shavazi et al., 2008, Abbasi-Shavazi & Sadeghi, 2012; Berry and Sabatier, 2009). When it comes to integration of second-generation immigrants, the perspectives in the existing literature are divided. Lucassen (2006;21-22) uses examples from west European countries to point out that most transnational behaviours and attachments fade away within one generation after arriving to a new society. He further points out different aspects of how second-generation migrants lose touch with their parent’s country of origin and highlights that usually the second-generation loses the language of origin as well as regular personal contacts with the parents’ country of origin. Similar studies have shown fairly alike results and have also added that the general second-generation migrant give up the idea of having the country of origin as a possible future home (Levitt & Jaworsky, 2007;133; Portes, et al, 1999). The vast majority of these studies conduct a qualitative nature, but even quantitative studies find similar trends (Kasinitz, et al, 2008). Contrariwise, other studies show that second-generation migrants might be less transnational compared to their parents, and argue that the preservation of the heritage culture and its impact on the host society has to be studied over a long period of time (Haller & Landolt, 2005; Levitt, 2009; Levitt & Waters, 2002; Smith, 2006). Previous studies on second-generation acculturation have recognized the correlation between the maintenance of the “old” identity to the home country and the pace and success of economic adaptation in the host society. Gans (1992) uses the American context to criticize the “myth of automatic assimilation” among second-generation immigrants. Meanwhile, Portes and Zhou (1993) and Portes and Rumbaut (2005) present the concept of “segmented assimilation”, which they argue is directly linked to the immigrants parents in terms of human capital, family type and different spheres of incorporation. However, these studies are primarily focused on demographic characteristics prior to migration or the economic barriers in the host country and have paid limited attention to the social and political circumstances, which could be an important factor in the acculturation and integration process. The big volume of research on integration of immigrants is mostly focused on high-income and “western” counties such as the US, France, UK, Canada and Australia. However, less attention has been given to integration of immigrants in low- and middle-income, “non-western” countries (Waxman, 2001; Berry, 1992; Goldlust and Richmond, 1974). The existing research focused on integration in Iran has contributed to the understanding of the Afghans situation in the country, but the concentration of these studies have primarily been on family and fertility, return migration, livelihood strategies, trans-national networks and demographic aspects. The few studies that actually do exist and touch upon the topic of second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran are all from a quantitative method, mostly focused on the demography or the livelihood of Afghans living in rural refugee settlements (Abbasi-Shavazi:2008, WFP, 2016). However, since only 3% of the Afghan migrant population lives in rural refugee settlements, the 97% living in urban areas are excluded from the findings of these studies (HRW, 2013).
2.2 Identified research gap and scientific relevanceIn summary, this literature review has shown that there is an existing research gap on factors influencing integration in general and applied on second-generation immigrants in particular. Further, there is also a geographic gap in the research of this kind and few studies on this topic have been conduced on low- and middle-income non-western countries. Overall, the coverage of the situation for Afghans in Iran is very limited and methodologically restricted to quantitative research. Qualitatively conducted research on this topic in Iran is not only limited, but in fact totally lacking. Theoretically, there are few studies that look at different structures of the society and combine economic, political and social levels. Consequently, the method, geographical focus, theoretical framework and empirical focus of this study will help to fill an important gap in the research and thus contribute to the wider understanding of integration.
3 Description of case
3.1 Bilateral relation between Iran and AfghanistanIran (before 1935 called Persia) and Afghanistan have a long history together which is important to present in order to make it clear why the concept of othering, rooted in Orientalism, is applicable on this study. During the Persian Empire (around 550 B.C. – 650 A.D.), parts of what is now Afghanistan, were ruled by different Persian dynasties. Afghanistan became independent in 1919 (Olmstead, 1948). The two countries share several religious, linguistic and ethnic groups, which throughout history have helped to shape cultural overlaps. However, Afghanistan has most often been seen as a “younger brother” that has developed from the powerful Persian Empire (Romano, 2003) and Iran has simultaneously been viewed as the safer, richer and stronger country. This is creating a power structure based on race and nationality, which makes othering interesting to apply on this context.
3.2 Migration policiesIran has ratified the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and its 1967 Protocol in 1976 but when they did, they had reservations on Article 17 (wage earning employment), Article 23 (public relief), Article 24 (labour legislation and social security) and Article 26 (freedom of movement) (WFP, 2016, HRW, 2013). This makes Iran an especially interesting case to investigate in regards to how these policies and reservations have influenced the integration of the second-generation immigrants in the country. Migration between Iran and Afghanistan is not a new phenomenon. The migration waves throughout history have been connected to labour force migration, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989), civil war and advent of the Taliban in Afghanistan (1994-2001) (UNFPA, 2016, Abbasi-Shavazi, 2008). With Ayatollah Khomeini in power, the Iranian government policy was to automatically grant Afghans arriving to Iran country residency rights, acknowledging that they were “involuntary migrants”. Following the death of Khomeini in 1989, the Iranian governments strategic outlook changed (Koepke, 2011; 2, Bhatnagar, 2012). After 1992 and onwards Iran stopped granting Afghans residency rights and instead temporary residency permits were provided to some Afghans. Those Afghans who were not granted temporary residency were treated as undocumented migrants, which limited their rights and made them a victim of deportation (Bialcyk, 2008; 21). The same year, 1992, the first serious effort to repatriate Afghans was initiated (Abbasi-Shavazi et al, 2005). As a result of the attempt to halt the flow of Afghans, the majority of the newly arriving Afghans during the mid-1990s remained undocumented (Monsutti, 2006;13). In 1997, the Iranian government went one step further and stopped granting residency right to Afghans altogether and increased efforts to register and repatriate the Afghans already living in Iran (Abbasi-Shavazi et al, 2005). Year 2000 is marked as a legal turning point for the Afghans in Iran because the Iranian government passed the law called “Article 48” as part of a five-year development plan focused on the repatriation of Afghans. In practice, this meant that all Afghans without work permit were forced to leave Iran, unless they could prove that they would face physical threats in Afghanistan (HRW, 2002;15). After the fall of the Talibans in Afghanistan in 2001, Iran actively encouraged the Afghans living in Iran to repatriate, which resulted in a high number of returnees (HRW, 2013, Harpviken, 2009;7). However, in 2008 the security situation in Afghanistan declined significantly, and since then the overall voluntary return figure has steadily declined, with approximately only 10,000 to 20,000 individuals per year (PRRO, 2015, UNHCR, 2012).
3.2.1 Registration systemA system with the purpose to re-register all already documented Afghan nationals in Iran was introduced in 2003 and called the “Amayesh” system. This system replaced the earlier registration process and is now Iran’s sole system for renewing registered Afghans. Since this registration exercise, the vast majority of Afghans arriving in Iran have not been allowed to register for an Amayesh card (HRW, 2013). Legally speaking, the Amayesh card works as a temporary residence card and refugee identification document (Altai Consulting, 2008;13). With an Amayesh card, refugees are able to access a variety of services including free primary education and free basic health care. To retain an Amayesh cards is by many described as a complex and bureaucratically difficult process, since they require renewal on a yearly basis and the smallest mistake can cause a permanent loss of refugee status. The Afghan migrants struggle both to understand and follow the complicated renewal procedure, traveling to the registration centres as well as paying the fees of renewal (HRW, 2013). If a card expires and fails to be renewed, the cardholder is considered undocumented and thus unlawfully present in Iran and a subject to deportation, without either right to appeal or means to claim asylum (Adelkhah and Olszewska, 2007; 142, Altai Consulting, 2008;13, HRW, 2015). With the Amayesh card, the cardholder is allowed to work with a small number of narrowly defined labour-intensive jobs (HRW, 2013, WFP, 2016) . The vast majority of these jobs are heavy manual labour positions selected both based on the demands of the labour market, but also to ensure that Afghans will not compete for the same jobs as middle- and high-class Iranian citizens. These ”low class jobs” are not only poorly paid, but sometimes also dangerous and many times Afghans work without an agreement or contract (HRW, 2013, Hamed at UNHCR). Afghans found working in unauthorized occupations are viewed as having violated their rights to refugee status and risk to be deported. In 2013, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern that “Afghan workers are often paid less than the minimum wage, or are faced with non-payment of wages”, however few changes have happened (HRW, 2013).
3.3 The Solution Strategy for Afghan RefugeesIn 2012 the regional four-year “Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees” (SSAR) was initiated and agreed upon by Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR with the objective to support voluntary repatriation of refugees back to Afghanistan and sustainable reintegration as well as support to host countries to assist refugees. Iran was the first country to operationalize the SSAR (UNHCR, 2014). One of the challenges with the SSAR is the implication that Afghanistan is a post-conflict country. The “2013 Eligibility Guidelines” of UNHCR clearly address and question the danger of underestimating the continued need of asylum for many Afghans, due to the insecure situation in the country (UNHCR, 2013). Advocates have further questioned the actual willingness of Pakistan and Iran to accept that some Afghans will not return (IRIN, 2012). This chapter shows the complicated migrant situation and the unique migration policies in Iran. Despite that Iran has had a migrant influx for more than 30 years, creating a big second-generation migrant group, the problem of integration is nevertheless still present. This challenging situation further strengthens the relevance to investigate what factors hinders and/or facilitate the integration process, as well as to use Iran as a case, in order to reach an understanding of how better circumstances for a sustainable integration and livelihood for migrants could be created.
4 Theoretical Framework
4.1 Othering and integrationSince Simone De Beauvoir’s (1949) introduced the notion of ”the other” as a construction of the opposing and thereby simultaneously constructing ”the self”, the concepts of ”the other”, “othering”, and ”otherness” have taken root in many different areas and research. Edward Said´s “Orientalism" from 1978 constitutes one of the most well known scholarly pieces on diversity as socially constructed. Said claims that “the Orient” is constructed in order to substantiate an “Other” and thereby construct a picture of an “opposite”, something that “we” can differentiate ourselves from. This construction of “other” appears when we define ourselves since we simultaneously define what we are not (Said, 1978:63). The “others” are perceived as different, exotic and somewhat incompatible with what is seen as “us” (Isin 2002; Ahmed 2006). Said’s Orientalism, which combines a notion of “the other” with exoticism, constitutes one of the keystones within research on how the West eroticized other areas and populations, primarily the 'Orient', creating a dichotomy of “us” and “them” rooted in the former colonial structures (Said, 1978:63, 324f). With Michel Foucault's power theories as a point of departure, Said points to the Orientalism as a way for West to rule the East; culturally, socio-economically and politically (Said, 1978:70,94). However, Orientalism is not dependent on a geographical location alone, but is also equally focused on race and nationality, which is why this theory is applicable on relations between contexts outside of the East-West paradigm too. Actually, applying orientalism on the case with Afghans in Iran increases the relevance of Said’s theory, since it highlights power structures within societies instead of between societies. Thus, the concept of Said’s othering is applied in this study but used from another angle and focused on a different composition of structures and actors than originally created for. Hence, the geographical focus area of Orientalism is not used in this case, but instead the role that nationality plays when constructing “the other” is inherited and applied on the relation between Afghans and Iranians. When applying othering on societal structures in order to investigate how it affects, and is affected by, different actors, an explanation of how structures and actors should be interpreted and defined is essential, and follows below.
4.2 Structures and actorsWithin social science exists a divide concerning how individuals are perceived. On one side, individuals are seen as totally independent from structural influences, meanwhile others argue that individuals are un-free and thus a result of the social context they are in. However, most scholars within social science acknowledge some degree of both these perspectives. Lundquist (1984:1-4) argues that, when analysing political phenomenon, it is necessary to study both actors and the (social) structure within which they act. The actors within the context of this study are primarily the second-generation Afghan immigrants living in Iran, but also the Iranian civil society and the Iranian government, since their treatment and decisions highly influence and shape the structures of the society. Structures can best be described as theoretical constructions that can be neither touched nor measured (Hollis, 1994). Further, a structure can be understood as a social system which (sometimes unconsciously) reconstructs the present state. When structures are described in this section they should thus be interpreted as tools to facilitate the understanding of social processes. According to Lundquist (1984:5), there exist three analytical structures, which social processes occur and can be understood within: social, economic and political structures. As illustrated in Figure 1 (page 12), these three structures are interlinked and dependent on each other and constitute the keystones of what can explain the second-generation Afghan immigrants integration process. In other words, one can see a circle where the treatment of Afghans in one structure influences their situation in the next, making all structures related and necessary. Therefore, it is important to include and recognize all these structures and interpret the factors within each of them, otherwise the complete picture of the complex situation of integration would neither be visible nor reliable. Figure 2 below illustrates how the different factors applied in each structure are connected to the bigger picture of integration and how they are all influencing each other to shape the format of the integration process. As showed in Figure 1 (page 12), each structure influences different sides of the integration process, but is simultaneously interconnected, overlapping, and influencing each other. Since the structures are somehow overlapping, so are also some of the factors. For instance, “trust to local authorities” and “deportation” are closely connected and somewhat overlapping, even though they are part of different structures. Since every context has unique circumstances for integration, the factors highlighted in this figure should be seen as only applicable on the specific context in which this study takes place. Figure 2 further illustrates, how each factor is necessary for a complete and full integration to be enabled. Nevertheless, some of the factors might have a higher importance for integration than others, which will be further discussed in the analysis and conclusion of this study. Below, each of the structures will be explained with relevant theories to give a stable view of how othering is visible and influence different factors within each structure.
4.3 Applying othering on social, economic and political structures
4.3.1 How othering effects integration in the social structureThe cultural geographer Crang (1998:61) describes othering as “a process […] through which identities are set up in an unequal relationship”. Thus, othering is both constructing the self or “in-group” but also shapes the other or “out-group” in mutual and unequal opposition through identification of desirable or undesirable characteristics of the self and/or the other. According to Crang, othering thus creates a superior self/in-group in contrast to an inferior/out-group. The construction of “others” has become subject to racism. According to Balibar (1991), racism is no longer based on “race” as such, but more closely connected to a fear of cultural interbreeding. In fact, Balibar argues that since the abolishment of colonization, the primary theme is no longer the superiority of one group on top of another, but instead the need or obsession to separate groups and “to purify the social body, to preserve 'one's own' or 'our' identity from all forms of mixing, interbreeding or invasion” (Balibar, 1991:17). This “new” sort of racism inevitably includes a contradiction since it on the one side is conservative and desires cultures to be differentiated and static, meanwhile it on the other side expects assimilation to proceed integration for immigrants (Balibar, 1991:25). In understanding modern racism, Zizek stresses that the concept has gone even further by idealizing the “other” as a better person than “ourselves” and someone to gain wisdom from (McLaren 2001; Ahmed 2006). This study will look at othering in the social structure through focusing on how it affects the second-generation Afghan immigrants formation of identity, social network and trust towards the local authority. These aspects are seen as the most essential within the social structure, since they highly influence the feeling of belonging, security and acceptance in a society, and are thus strongly connected to equality and integration.
4.3.2 Economic structures creating class-based societyWithout the notion of class, it is impossible to study the racial or ethnic othering, as has been pointed out by many scholars including Balibar (1991), Wallerstein (1991) and Ahmed (2006). Wallerstein (1991:29-35) highlights, that racism and segregation fulfil the function to ensure stratification in the capitalist system since there will always be a need of constant supply of workers who accept low wages and poor working conditions. Consequently, the economic system has no drive for full integration, since this helps to justify the existence of a disadvantaged class. Therefore, when searching for explanations to segregation, it is important to consider the economic system as a potential cause or factor. When it comes to the labour market performance of migrants in destination countries, there are two main bodies of theory that have guided the research. One approach is the human capital theory based on neo-classical economics, which argues that differences in salary, discrimination on the labour market, occupational status etcetera between the immigrants and locals, simply reflects differences within the average productive capabilities of the two groups (Wooden, 1994; 220). The second approach argues that an individual’s labour market position cannot only be explained with a formation of their abilities and characteristics but instead mirrors the experienced discrimination towards the group to which they belong. However, as highlighted by Portes, Fernández-Kelly and Heller (2008), it could also be argued that in many contexts both of these approaches are relevant, which will be discussed in the context of Afghans in Iran. The economic section in this study will investigate how education and employment opportunities influence the notion of class among the second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran, and how these factors impact the integration process. The motive behind why these two factors will be focused on is due to that the level and quality of education usually is setting the scene for what employment a person will get and consequently what economic level they will reach. Thus, education, employment and their relation are highly relevant to investigate in order to understand the reasons behind the Afghans class-level, economic discrimination and othering within the Iranian society.
4.3.3 Political structure and how citizenship shapes membershipAnderson presents arguments for why the nation state is a colonial construction aiming at excluding the unwanted and colonized, where borders can be both physical and metaphorical (Anderson 2013:2; Vaughan-Williams, 2009). Isin claims that every society constructs some of its members as “others” and that this is a necessary and inevitable method for creating an elite or ruling class, and that groups are created naturally to contrast each other (Isin 2002:280f). Regardless if groups are self-defined, hypothetical or real, groups are shaped and exist in relation to others (Isin 2002:25-35). Citizenship is often translated into “membership” in a state, consequently leading to a debate among scholars if it should be perceived as a status or a practice, empowerment or domination. In this way, the society can be understood as a “community of values” where individuals are divided into the group who share values, hence seen as righteous and superior, and those who do not share values, the “non-members”, seen as their counterpart with attributes as immoral, dishonest and criminal. These kinds of constructions serve to justify political exclusion, economic marginalization, racism and sometimes deportation of people without citizenship (Isin 2002:35f). Moreover, social problems are more often associated with the disadvantaged group than with society itself (Schinkel, 2013). Dividing people into “members” and “non-members” could be seen as an act of othering, which again connects back to the core of this theoretic framework and the essentials of this study. Based on the theoretical importance of citizenship and its connection to the right as a citizen, the Afghans prospects to gain citizenship in Iran together with the threat of deportation will be the focus of the political structure within this study.
4.4 Operationalization of termsOthering in the social structure has throughout the data collection process been operationalized through discussions on how Afghans experience being perceived by the Iranian civil society in different public spheres. These reflections have further been used to analyse how othering in the social structure influences the second-generation Afghan immigrants identity, composition of social networks and the trust towards local authorities. The “economic structure” has been examined through discussing the second-generation Afghan immigrants possibilities to enrol in schools and enter the labour market. These possibilities are then brought together to analyse the relation between the education sector and labour market possibilities, which is further used as a factor that influences the integration process and social class of Afghans. Finally, the “political structure” has been dealt with when discussing the second-generation Afghan immigrants possibilities to gain citizenship and the risk of being deported and how this influences their feeling of security and freedom. These social, economic and political factors are furthermore brought together to discuss the overall impact on the second-generation Afghan immigrants’ feeling of belonging, interest to integrate and future prospects and how this could be connected to the global migration challenges.
5 MethodologyThe methodological choice of this study is a qualitative case study. This method will enable the study to focus on the specific issue – integration – in the setting of second-generation Afghan immigrants, within the particular context of Iran. This research design is useful when trying to capture different structures within a special cultural setting and put that in a contextual understanding of a concept, such as integration. It has been discussed among researchers whether a case study is a methodology, a research strategy or merely a choice of what is being researched (Flyvbjerg, 2006). In this study, however, it will be used as a method, even though it should be acknowledged that this method also impacts the strategy and focus of the study. The interest of this study is to analyse and focus on complex social processes closely connected to people’s experiences and integration processes. This information may not be possible to capture in a rightful way using surveys and statistics (Corbin and Strauss, 1998: 11), thus a qualitative method is more suitable than quantitative. As argued by Corbin and Strauss (1998:11), qualitative research methodology is useful when obtaining an understanding of the nature of integration and individual experiences, since this enables the researcher to interpret the thoughts and feelings within the given context. Within qualitative research, focus is directed towards how the respondents describe their social reality (Bryman, 2012: 341), which is what this study seeks to understand in order to answer the research question. Further, another reason behind why quantitative data will not be used in this study is related to the risk that the respondents and the researcher might put themselves in, by collecting data on sensitive and sometimes controversial topics. Furthermore, using qualitative data is also suitable in order to fill the existing research gap on this specific topic. However, combining qualitative and quantitative data is advisable for future research since this could help to widen the picture through comparing the different data and deepen the understanding.
5.1 MaterialThe targeted respondents of this study consist of 10 second-generation Afghan immigrants living in Iran, where 5 are women and 5 are men in the age range 18-25. Moreover, 7 expert interviews with individuals working for agencies and organizations specially focused on the situation for Afghans in Iran is also part of the data. To broaden the data collection and combining data from both respondents and informants helps to deepen the understanding of the situation and to capture and reflect upon perspectives from different actors, a strength when investigating this kind of complex phenomenon. Moreover, it also gives a voice to the group which the study is focusing on, (which otherwise is restricted in many ways in Iran) (Avishai et al., 2012; Ragin & Amoroso 2010) and in turn fills the existing research gap, since the actual group of study has never been included in a qualitative study like this one before.
5.2 Interviews and samplingThe interviews conducted in this study have a semi-structured design. This interview design was chosen for the data collection, since it both makes sure that specific questions are being asked but at the same time allows for flexibility in the answers and opportunity for supplementary questions (Bryman, 2012: 413). Through the freedom and flexibility that semi-structured interviews allows, it enables to collect a “thick” description from primary sources, and thus not only make the findings more representative of the respondents perspectives (Flybjerg, 2006, Bryman, 2012), but also gathers a more in-depth knowledge of the respondents experienced situation (Creswell, 2013, Silverman, 2013) and offers them a voice (Avishai et al., 2012; Ragin & Amoroso, 2010). In order to decrease the risk to exclude respondents from participating due to language barriers, the interviews were conducted in the respondent’s mother tongue, Dari, Pashtu or Farsi, by using a translator. All the interviewees were informed about the purpose of the study, the topic, the role of the interviewer and the importance of answering truthfully. Furthermore, all the participants were asked if they wanted to be recorded or not and informed about that they could always withdraw their participation and stay anonymous. The interviewees decided the time and place for the interview as well as if they wanted to bring someone as support. Most, but not all of the expert interviews were recorded with a dictaphone, which gave the researcher bigger possibility to go back and listen to the interview at a later stage. For the interviews with second-generation Afghan immigrants, the translators strongly wished to not be recorded both for his/her own sake but also for the comfort of the respondents. Thus, the researcher observed and took notes from these interviews, which was a good solution for all parties. In order to protect the anonymity of the respondents, they will, throughout the analysis, be referred to with a letter, for example “Respondent A”, meanwhile the informants will be referred to with their first name or “informant” and the name of the organization or agency they represent. As stressed by Silverman (2013:193), the number of cases in research is dependent on the research question. The study has a diverse group of respondents and informants in order to enable many perspectives and understandings to be represented (Creswell 2013:178). Therefore, this study used a purposive sampling approach to identify key interviewees and reach an intersectional understanding, and a “snowball sampling” to use interviewees to get in touch with more relevant interviewees (Bryman 2012:416-418, Scheyvens, 2014:42f). The majority of the data was collected in Tehran, the capital of Iran, because this is where a big group of the Afghan immigrants live and also where most organizations have their offices. Since many of the organization are active in several different parts of Iran, the informants often reflect upon the overall situation for Afghan immigrants in the country and can sometimes draw comparisons between different regions. Moreover, some of the Afghans respondents have moved around in different parts of Iran and can thus also compare and reflect on the general situation. As a result, even though the majority of the interviews are conducted in Tehran, the findings will be possible to apply on the overall experience for second-generation Afghans in Iran.
5.3 Ethical considerations - positionality and reflexivityIt is important to continuously reflect on positionality, as there are many aspects that could influence how the researcher perceives and is perceived by the respondents (Creswell 2013:177; Sultana 2007:375). According to Sultana (2007), conducting ethical research should include, that issues like power relations and positionality, are reflected upon throughout the research process. This is essential since these issues influence all aspects of the research and reflexivity is a key aspect of ethical research (Sultana, 2007: 375). In relation to this, Rose (1997) highlights the importance of that every researcher is aware of his or her own “situatedness”, context and perception when interpreting and analysing data, since the researcher is in the position to represent the respondents and reflect on their words. According to England (1994), power relations are always entailed in research and thus reflexivity is vital. However, only being reflexive on one’s role as a researcher is not enough to remove the present power relations between researcher and respondent. Consequently, it is important to use strategies that are sensitive to the power imbalances and allow social research to connect with social change. Standpoint epistemology is presented by Sprague (2005) as one method to help to overcome the biases and power imbalances within research. This method is challenging the researchers authority to set the agenda, prioritize respondents of being the “knowledge-producer” and decide how to interpret and disseminate the results, among other things (Sprague, 2005). Ultimately, the researcher is the primary tool in qualitative research and thus, both England (1994) and Sprague (2005) argue that reflexivity is imperative to understand how the findings are presented and how knowledge is constructed. The author of this research is aware of her role as a Swedish woman in a context where she might act differently and most certainly look different. One example of the positonality of the author is that she shares a belief that no nationality is more worth than another and thus discrimination based on nationality or race is unjust. This viewpoint may affect the outcome of the research in a way that it views integration of Afghans in Iran as something positive both for the individuals but also for the host society to flourish.
5.4 TrustworthinessThe accuracy of conclusions from the analysis are dependent on how well data has been collected and examined (Bryman, 2012:49). The question if what the participants answer in the interviews would corresponds with their actual feelings, thoughts and actions, is an issue that Silverman (2013:270f) stresses in relation to trustworthiness (Creswell, 2007:202ff). This aspect will always be present in research and can only be tackled through clearly presenting the purpose of the interview, expectations and roles for the respondent and the importance of answering truthfully.
5.5 Empirical restrictionsSome aspects had to be excluded from this study, such as freedom of movement and freedom of expression, among other things. This decision was made due to limitation of scope, controversial aspects and relevance in connection to the theoretical framework and focus area of the study. As with all groups in society, there are stratifications also within the Afghan migration group, which is important to keep in mind while reading but will not be explained further due to limitations of the scope of this study.
5.6 Use of findingsAs highlighted by Creswell (2007:75) and Regin and Amoroso (2010:115), case studies can derive themes and concepts in order to understand the specific case and provide new theoretical ideas, but can however not be generalized beyond the case in which it takes place. Political, economic and social climates are inconsistent and change over time, thus the interpretation and findings of this study have to be understood in relation to the current context and time in which the study was made. The aim of this study is to provide insights and methods of reasoning useful for further research on integration in different contexts. Further, it wishes to contribute to the global understanding of societal structures, othering and social policies in the field of global development and international migration.
6 Empirical findings and analysis
6.1 Social structure – perception and social acceptance among civil society and local authorities
6.1.1 Othering in the civil societyThe feeling of being accepted in a host society is closely connected to how one is being approached by the local population. Thus, the way in which Iranians view and treat Afghans could be one of the most important factors behind the Afghans’ feeling of social equality and integration. When discussing the general Iranian perspectives of Afghans, many respondents expressed that “Afghans are treated differently” and that “Afghans are considered on a lower level in the society compared to Iranians” (Mohammad at IOM, Respondents C). This has a clear connection to othering, where one group is seen as “lower” or different from the local population. By putting the Afghans into a group, the Iranian population simultaneously creates a picture of themselves as this group’s opposite, which is something Said explains as the core of Orientalism and a common consequence of othering (Said, 1978). However, important to note is that the picture of Afghans seems to vary depending on a number of variables, such as first- or second-generation, geographical location and profession. The differences in treatment between first- and second-generation Afghan immigrants could be rooted in the fact that the first-generation Afghan immigrants have less contact with Iranians than second-generation Afghan immigrants. This is mostly due to that second-generation Afghan immigrants go to school with Iranians, have Iranians in their social networks and speak Farsi more fluently (Informant at DRC, Respondent H). This indicates how the integration of second-generation Afghan immigrants in the education sector and social networks has helped to somehow change the perception of this group to a more positive direction. On the other hand, it also shows how othering of the first-generation Afghan immigrants might have influenced them to separate themselves from Iranians. The geographical differences in treatment of Afghans are found between as well as within rural and urban areas. Some respondent stressed that most of the confrontations between Afghans and Iranians in Tehran happen in poor neighbourhoods in downtown, mostly due to the conflict of low-paid job opportunities. In richer areas of the city however, Afghans can walk freely, sometimes without people even noticing or commenting on their nationality (Informant at DRC, Respondent C, Respondent G). The perspective of Afghans is also connected to the activities that they do in Iran. The general picture of Afghans working with constructions and other hard labour professions is a positive one, regarding that they are seen as hardworking, loyal and effective. Consequently, Iranian employers in construction companies are sometimes more willing to employ Afghans than Iranians (Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi, Tehran University). This could be seen as the core of othering, where characteristics of an individual with Afghan roots are seen as Afghan characteristics rather than characteristics of someone with experience in construction or similar professions. However, as Balibar would argue, in this case othering does not seek to impose negative characteristics on the immigrants and does thus not include racist tendencies (Balibar, 1991). Rather, as claimed by Zizek, this way of expressing Afghans characteristics idealized the “others”, possibly to justify their exploitation (as cited in McLaren, 2001). Integration is a two-way process, meaning that the way in which the local society views migrants also affects how migrants view locals, and the other way around. Thus, it is important to include both groups perspectives of each other. In analysing how Afghans view Iranians and the Iranian society, one can come closer to an understanding of the way Iranians view Afghans. Some of the respondents describe that the fact that Afghans generally say that they are mistreated or discriminated by Iranians and the Iranian government, fuels the tension among Iranians and strengthens their negative feelings towards Afghans (Mohammad at IOM). This shows how group formation and othering recreates itself, meaning that the fact that Afghans are seen as different from Iranians strengthens their bounds towards each other as a group. In this context, othering also functions as a method to define another. As the second-generation Afghan immigrants experience that they are perceived as belonging to an Afghan group, they automatically also define others as either excluded or included from the same group. In this case the Iranians become “the others” in the eyes of the Afghans and thus the negative characteristics that the Afghans have faced from a number of Iranians, is transferred to the entire group of Iranians. Based on this, group formation in itself is an act of othering. In accordance to Isin (2002), the act to emphasize the common within a group, simultaneously also shapes an understanding of the difference of non-members of the same group.
6.1.2 How othering influence identity formationOne factor behind integration is to what extend people feel connected to or can identify themselves with the host culture. This brings us to the question of how identity can be influenced, or even shaped, by othering. Many of the respondents and informants stress that the second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran may have Iranian behaviour, friends, customs and traditions, but that they do not feel connected to the Iranian culture and would not like to address themselves or be addressed as Iranians (Informant at DRC, Mohammad at IOM, Respondent A, Respondent D, Respondent F). Many Afghans are very proud of being Afghan, and their identity might grow based on the othering and how they are placed into a group. The treatment in Iran and the way Iranians view Afghans as “others” and “from top to down”, makes it hard for Afghans to connect to the Iranian people, which potentially strengthens their bounds to the Afghan identity and group (Informant at DRC), which goes in line with what Edward Said describes as the consequence of othering (Said, 1978). However, even though Afghans are proud of their origins, some of them lie about their identity and present themselves as Iranians, as a coping mechanism, to avoid being negatively or differently treated in public spaces. Some of the respondents described how they themselves, or people they know, claim that they are Iranian instead of Afghan in schools, neighbourhoods and other public areas, in order to avoid negative treatment by teachers, neighbours or other students (Mehrnaz at Imam Ali Popular Students Society, Hamed at UNHCR, Mohammad at IOM). This shows how othering sometimes results in the act of hiding or lying about your true identity, the very same identity that you also are proud of having, in order to be accepted and avoid unequal treatment. This coping mechanism can be used by some of the Afghan ethnic groups that have a facial appearance similar to Iranians. However, Hazaras, the biggest Afghan ethnic group in Iran, have a particular facial appearance which makes it harder for them to hide or lie about their Afghan roots (Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi, Tehran University, Respondent C).
6.1.3 How othering influence social networksTo what extend a diaspora has local nationals included in their social network is an aspect commonly used as a variables when measuring the level of integration in quantitative research (Abbasi-Shavazi, et al., 2008). Therefore, it becomes interesting to explore how othering of second-generation Afghan immigrants has influenced and shaped their social networks. Many of the respondents answered that they have Iranians in their social network, especially among the Afghans with higher education. However, the relation that second-generation Afghan immigrants have with their Iranian friends are, in general, different compared to their Afghan friends. Some respondents stress that with their Afghan friends they exchange favours and help each other financially or in other ways, but they would never ask an Iranian friend about the same kind of favours (Respondent B, Respondent F, Respondent J). Other respondents give yet another angle on the situation, referring to that Iranians are seen as important connections to use if they are facing problems with the local authorities or in order to decrease the risk to be deported (Mohammad at IOM, Respondent G, Respondent I). This means that sometimes Iranians are included in the social networks of second-generation Afghan immigrants due to that they constitute good connections rather than friends. Hence, including Iranians in the Afghans’ social networks are by some of the respondents explained as a matter of survival rather than actually socializing with the Iranians (ibid). How second-generation Afghan immigrants use their Iranian friends and on what terms they include Iranians in their social networks could be seen as a result of othering. The impending feeling of being seen as “different” makes the Afghans to also see Iranians as “others” and thus develop different feelings and expectations from their Iranian friends compared to their Afghan friends. According to the respondents, some Afghans find it hard to trust Iranians with important information because of fear of having the information leaked to “the wrong Iranians”. Furthermore, some respondents believe Iranians are unable to understand Afghan living conditions in Iran fully, which makes it hard to talk about feelings, discrimination and problems in the society with them (Respondent C, Respondent E, Respondent I).
6.1.4 How othering influence the local authorities and the trust towards themLocal authorities are often seen as representatives of the state and thus this topic is closely connected to the political structure, as discussed in relation to Figure 2 (page 24). However, it is important to not only focus at the formal political institution as such, but to also look at the state from an agency perspective, where individuals’ acting on behalf of the government has to be seen from a social perspective. Thus, to fully understand a discriminatory behaviour among local authorities, it is important to look at informal institutions and the social creation of othering, which is why this section is included in the social structure rather than the political one. The topic of local authorities was for many second-generation Afghan immigrants related to distrust and a feeling of being mistreated and disrespected. Both documented and un-documented Afghans replied, that they would not go to the police or trust the local authorities, some of them due to the risk of being deported and others due to fear of being insulted or treated unfairly due to their Afghan roots (Respondent F, Respondent H). “What difference would it make if I went to the police? The police don’t care about me because I am Afghan. […] One of my friends went to the police and they beat him when he tried to report something. And to whom do you report violence from the police? […]Especially undocumented Afghans they have no chance” (Respondent B). When the same topic was brought up in some of the expert interviews, the discriminatory behaviour of the local authority was not denied but instead explained as a reflection of the local Afghan non-friendly culture. “I mean those who are local authorities are representatives of their own culture and they are being pushed and influenced by the culture that they have” (Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi, Tehran University). This shows how othering of a certain group by the local civil society can be reflected in the behaviour of local authorities. In turn, the perception and treatment among the local authority might also influence the perception among the Iranian civil society, since the local authorities to some extend are seen as the representatives of the government and society. This means that othering among the local authorities and among the civil society could go hand-in-hand and influence to each other. This indicates that as long as othering of Afghans and mistreatment towards them as a group is present in the civil society, it will also be so among the local authorities, and vice versa, since they legitimize each other’s behaviour.
6.2 Economic structure – Economic opportunities and social class through employment and educationThe economic structure of a society is obviously very broad and includes many aspects that influence people’s everyday life. However, this study focuses on employment and education since these factors have a direct impact on a person’s individual economy and social class and are closely connected to general economic inclusion and/or exclusion in the society.
6.2.1 EmploymentAs described in the background section, Afghans, that possess an Amayesh card, are allowed to work with a limited number of professions, in general mostly low-paid and low-class jobs. As in many migrant-receiving countries, there is an on-going discussion concerning the impact that migrants have on the host countries’ local economy and labour market. There are claims that the high level of unemployment among Iranians is a consequence of the large number of Afghan workers. However, the highest concentration of unemployment in Iran is among the highly educated, which means jobs that Afghans are technically unable to compete for since the Amayesh card do not allow them to work with these occupations. Nevertheless, the low-paid Iranian workers who compete with Afghans for the low-level jobs have faced negative effects of Afghans entering the Iranian labour market. Interestingly, figures show that areas of Afghan concentration are mostly in provinces with low levels of unemployment, which indicates that Afghans have moved to areas with labour shortage and thus are meeting the demand for low-class, unskilled labour sectors in these areas (Hugo, 2012;274, UNFPA, 2016, Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi, Tehran University, Mohammad at IOM). In order to fully understand the decision behind limiting Afghans to enter the labour market, it is important to look at the unemployment rate in Iran and understand the demographic challenges of the country. The unemployment rate among the youth in Iran has during the recent years been around 25-28 % (economist.com, 2016, tradingeconomics.com, 2016). One challenge is that Iran recently experienced a large baby boom, which is now about to enter the labour market (Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi, Tehran University). Another aspect is that Iran’s economy has been restricted due to embargoes, crises in neighbouring countries, international sanctions and difficulties to import and export. Even though Iran is a growing economy, these restrictions have influenced the countries economy and labour market. Moreover, when planning on how to absorb the number of young unemployed in the country, the first priority would, according to Doctor Abbasi-Shavazi, be to absorb Iranians and then, on a later stage, look at the needs of the immigrants (ibid). When looking at the labour market for Afghans, it is also important to acknowledge the differences between the first- and second-generation Afghan immigrants, since these groups have different needs and expectations on the labour market and labour law improvements (ibid). A high share of the first-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran are illiterate and have very limited education from Afghanistan, which makes it harder for them to work with other professions than the ones they are allowed to with the Amayesh card. In addition, there is also a gender aspect, since the first-generation Afghan immigrants sometimes are traditional in the sense that women should not be working or studying. The second-generation Afghan immigrants, however, have the possibility to educate themselves and are less traditional in terms of gender roles and thus the problem of not being able to be absorbed at the labour market occurs more visible. The limitation on the labour market pushes the Afghans into a low economic and societal class of the society. The financial turmoil in combination with the increased cost of living in Iran puts low-income families in an unsustainable living situation, which results in that nearly half of all Afghans in Iran live below the absolute poverty line (HRW, 2013).
6.2.2 EducationIn May 2015, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered that all Afghan children in Iran should be permitted schooling, regardless of their residency status. This facilitated the enrolment of approximately 48,000 undocumented Afghan children during 2015-16 scholastic years. In addition, in May 2016, the refugee-specific fee (US$ 70 - 90 per child) for registration into Iranian schools was lifted (Karami, 2015, theiranproject.com, 2015, WFP, 2016). The objective of this new approach has not been clearly communicated. Some explain the decision with having religious roots, arguing that education should be for everyone. Others argue that this is another way for the Iranian government to further encourage Afghans to leave Iran, since they can not work with the professions that they educated themselves for inside of Iran and thus perhaps become more motivated to repatriate to Afghanistan or to some other country (Informant at UNAMA). However, perhaps the new school policy could also have an opposite effect on the Afghan diaspora, meaning that they stay longer in Iran since the same level of education would be hard to gain in Afghanistan (Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi, Tehran University). Whatever the reasoning behind allowing Afghans to study might be, legally speaking, Iran is obliged to ensure education for all children regardless of residency status and give free primary education according to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) (articles 13 and 28), which both are ratified by Iran (HRW, 2013). However, even though this decision is positive for the Afghans in Iran, there are still some difficulties to conquer before it becomes reality for everyone. One of these difficulties is the difference between the children’s school age and biological age, since many of the children have not been to school for years and thus have too weak knowledge to be put in classes with children in the same age. Another problem is that the registration period was very short and therefore many Afghans did not manage to register their children in time (Informant at UNAMA). However, important to include in this discussion is also the difference of being enrolled in school and being accepted in school. Many of the respondents, both experts and Afghans, stressed that Afghans feel isolated, mistreated or seen as “the others” in school, mostly by other students but also sometimes by teachers (Mohammad IOM, Mehrnaz at Imam Ali Popular Students Society, Respondent D, Respondent F). This could easily be connected to why many second-generation Afghan immigrants try to hide their Afghan identity, as explained in the analysis of the social structure.
6.2.3 How the relation between the education sector and the labour market affect integrationThe recently established law allows Afghans to study in schools and universities, but simultaneously, they are still limited to work with only a small number of professions, often low-level and low-income jobs that do not require high education. Consequently, education wise, Afghans are in general pretty similar to Iranians but when it comes to employment the differences between the two groups is big (Informant at UNAMA). As stressed by many of the respondents, the Afghans are grateful for the possibility to study, but the skewed balance between education and job opportunities however do strengthen their will to leave Iran (Respondent A, Respondent F). “Now I can use my time here in Iran to be more qualified, to get better chances in Europe. I am not allowed to work with medicine, in offices or other things I dream about in Iran but maybe in Europe I could” (Respondent H). In connection to the different approaches on migrants’ position in the host societies’ labour market, the Afghan situation in Iran could be explained with both of the theories, depending on what group within the Afghan diaspora one is looking at. To some extend, especially among the first-generation Afghan immigrants, sometimes they have lower level of experience and education compared to Iranian natives, which influence the work they are qualified for. This goes in line with the human capital theory, which, from a neo-classical economic perspective, argues that the differences between the migrant group and the local population on the labour market simply is a product of the different qualities and abilities of the two groups (Wooden, 1994;220). On the other hand, this does not apply on the situation for second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran since they are able to obtain the same education and have similar expertise as their Iranian counterparts. In this case, the gap on the labour market between Iranians and second-generation Afghans can be described with deeply rooted discrimination against the Afghans, for instance through Article 48, which restricts Afghans to enter certain areas of employment, and the Amayesh card (Hugo, 2012;272). The possibility for these two approaches to be present simultaneously is stressed by Portes, Fernández-Kelly and Heller (2008) and could, as we now have seen, be applicable on the context of today’s Iran. According to Wallerstein (1991), the economic system of a host country pushes the migrant diaspora to poverty since the society needs a supply of people willing to take the low-status jobs that are not that desirable to have, but still necessary for the society to function. As Wallerstein (1991) points out, the migrants do in many cases have to accept these kinds of jobs due to a poor background, lack of education etcetera. However, in the Iranian context, the second-generation Afghan immigrants exclusion from the Iranian labour market is not due to the immigrants’ inability or lack of qualification, nor is it a result of the labour market itself, since there are Iranians willing to take the low-status jobs. In fact, the situation is due to political reforms and policies that limit the Afghans’ work permit and thus force them to remain in a lower class of the society even though they have education enough to climb higher on the society-level ladder. Within migrant receiving countries, it is common that parts of the local population develop a fear, regarding that the competition on the labour market will be negatively effected by the influx of immigrants or refugees. Consequently, immigrants and refugees are commonly blamed for “stealing jobs” from the local population in the host society. (Bhatnagar, 2012, Danso & McDonald 2000). In the Iranian society the situation is both similar and different. As a result of Afghans being limited to only low-level jobs, the competition increases for the low-educated Iranians. However, the restricted job opportunities for Afghans make it impossible for them to apply for any jobs which middle- and high class Iranians are interested in. As a result, the frustration directed towards Afghans on the labour market normally comes from the low-class Iranians since this pushes them in a more challenging position. Consequently, the fear that they would “steal the jobs” might be on a lower level than it would have been if they freely could compete for jobs on the whole labour market.
6.3 The political structure – how citizenship & deportation impact integrationAs many respondents have pointed out, the main discrimination for Afghans might not be from the Iranian civil society but from the Iranian government’s side, which makes the discrimination structural. Besides the restriction on work categories, there are some other restrictions that the Afghans have to cope with including; acquire a driver’s license, buy or sell land, buy property, open a bank account, use a bike, register a cell phone among other things (Informant at DRC, HRW, 2013). These restrictions have not only economical consequences but also social consequences and are for many described as aspects that affect the Afghans interest to stay on a long-term basis in Iran. “I am not allowed to live as an individual. I cannot do what the Iranian people can do here, I cannot even drive a car, buy property or have a bank account. […] I cannot stay here. I am not free” (Respondent E).
6.3.1 CitizenshipWhen it comes to the wishes and aspirations of second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran, many argue that the most important thing for them is to gain a citizenship since this will enable them to get more rights. “The second-generations want citizenship so they feel that they are integrated in Iran and they have some rights, basic rights at least” (Informant at DRC). Despite the fact that they are born in Iran, most of the Afghans are unable to gain citizenship due to the Iranian law on migration (Abbasi-Shavazi et al, 2008;14). According to the Iranian law, citizenship is seen as a “blood right” that passes through the father to the child. Based on this, children to Afghan fathers in Iran are simply not eligible for Iranian birth-right citizenship and are not recognized as Iranians but instead considered Afghans. Afghan men married with Iranian women do not get a citizenship but in cases where Afghan women marry Iranian men, the woman can gain an Iranian citizenship. However, since 2006 Iranian authorities have implemented regulations on marriages between Iranian men and Afghan women, making it increasingly difficult for these couple to get a permission to marry (Zahedi, 2007;225, HRW, 2013, Al-monitor.com, 2015). It is stressed repeatedly how hard it is for Afghans in Iran to gain citizenship and some of the respondents explain that one way is if a family member participate and dies in the war in Syria, then the person’s family members could potentially be given Iranian citizenship (Respondent J). “In the Islamic assembly, here in the parliament, they approve the law that says that those Afghans that are killed in the Syrian war, the Iranian government can give their families Iranian citizenship. Just for those, some of the family members to the one dead in Syria” (Informant at DRC). During the data collection process, the topic of how to obtain a citizenship, became the hardest question to discuss, especially in the expert interviews, since this is controversial and not something that the Iranian government appreciate being spread too much. Available data on this procedure is very limited which, as argued by some of the informants, is an explanation for why “you can not trust these rumours” (Informant at IOM). Meanwhile others stressed that Iran is a country with strict control over internet and media, “if they don’t want this information to be revealed they have their tactics to stop it” (Respondent D). Some respondents argued, that the Iranian government is trying their best to find a method to grant citizenship without sending an invitation to other Afghans, working as a pull factor and causing an influx of more people arriving in Iran with their hopes up. Simultaneously, the government does not want to create a negative picture of the country’s management of the situation to the Iranian public, nor to the international community (Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi at Tehran University, Mohammad at IOM). As stressed in the theoretical framework, citizenship is in many cases perceived as “membership” of the state. As Isin argues, societies can use citizenship to construct “outsiders” or “others”, which simultaneously creates an opposite to the “true” or the “dominating” group in a society (Isin, 2002;280f). In not granting Afghans citizenship, the othering of them as a group in contrast to the Iranians is strengthened. In accordance with Isin (2002;35f), to not have a citizenship becomes connected to not belonging to the culture, which serves to justify the exclusion and othering of Afghans, both first- and second-generation immigrants. As Anderson (2013) stresses, this could indicate how a state is trying to create physical and metaphorical borders, where the unwanted are excluded through being put in a group of non-citizens and thus failed or without the same values as in the ruling society.
6.3.2 DeportationThe threat of being deported goes hand in hand with not having citizenship and obviously influence the ability to feel integrated and accepted in a society. Deportation can be quite controversial to discuss and has during the interviews been approached in different ways. The concept deportation also seems to go under different names and definitions, since some informants refer to it as “spontaneous returns” (Mohammad at IOM). It seems like deportation from Iran to Afghanistan sometimes is used as a tool by the Iranian government to show its power over Afghanistan when there is tension between the two countries. “When something happens between Iran and Afghanistan and tensions get high, deportation also gets high. It is like a political pressure on the Afghanistan government” (Informant at DRC). Many of the respondents explain the lack of citizenship as not only limiting for their rights and possibilities, but it also puts a constant threat of deportation on their daily life, which makes them afraid of moving freely in public spaces. To not be given a citizenship, fundamentally means not experiencing freedom and is, according to the respondents, the main reason why staying in Iran under these circumstances is not a sustainable option for much longer and why moving to a new country becomes more and more desirable (Respondents I, Respondent J). “I don’t feel like a human here. We have no freedom and no future because the Iranian Government doesn’t want us here. I have to leave Iran and find a place where I am accepted and can feel that I belong” (Respondent G).
7.1 Othering and integration in the social, economic and political structures – factors that facilitate and/or hinder the integration processTo understand what factors hinder and facilitate the integration process of second-generation Afghan immigrants in the Iranian society, this study has shown that there are a number of factors influencing the Afghans possibilities to integrate in Iran. However, the topic is complex and while the Government of Iran provides a wide range of facilities and services to the Afghan population, such as education, they simultaneously discourage the permanent integration of Afghans through policies that restrict Afghans from different freedoms. It appears that othering is active both through difference-making but also through group formation, meaning that othering is an act performed both by the Afghans themselves, but also directed towards the Afghans. The second-generation Afghan immigrants are a group of, what Isin (2002) would call hypothetical nature, because it is created to define oneself and others, but it is simultaneously a real group that shows shared needs, problems and challenges of the members and where characteristics of this group are assigned by its non-members. To understand the social, economic and political difficulties Afghans are facing it is necessary to recognize the political policies and decisions behind this situation. The efforts to increase the enrolment of Afghans in Iranian schools can be seen as measurements to, in line with the SSAR, facilitate integration for second-generation Afghans immigrants in the Iranian society. There is, however, an economic exclusion towards Afghans on the Iranian labour market, which becomes especially visible for the educated Afghans who are not allowed to work with professions they are educated for. Moreover, it becomes clear that it is not the capitalistic system that creates this economic exclusion, since a capitalistic market would welcome cheap labour in all levels of society. Thus, the economic structure is not the most dominant in halting the integration of second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran. Instead, there are other mechanisms within the political and social structures that are stronger in shaping an othering of the Afghans in Iran and negatively impact their integration process. Othering in the social structure of the Iranian society has an important influence on the integration process of Afghans and plays a key role in how second-generation Afghan immigrants shape their identity, social network and trust towards the local authority. Moreover, as a result of the difficulties to gain Iranian citizenship and the threat of being deported without one, many second-generation Afghan immigrants have lost hope of ever having the same freedom and rights as Iranians, and thus never feel equal. Consequently, the second-generation Afghan immigrants in Iran are not under active process to integrate, but to prepare for emigration to another country, which transform Iran into a transit country, making the integration problems in Iran a concern far beyond its borders. Based on the analysis and conclusions above, (and to connect back to figure 2), figure 3 below illustrates, how the different factors included in this study preferably should be formed in order for an inclusive integration process to take place in the context of Iran. In the case of Afghans in Iran, “equal opportunities to education” is on the right track to be fulfilled due to the recently established education policy. However, as clearly displayed in the findings, change is needed within the social, economic and political structure in order for the remaining factors to create better circumstances for a sustainable integration to take place.
7.2 What can we learn from this case?This study shows, that groups or individuals with a lack of citizenship are hindered to be fully included in the society and this further strengthens the othering of this group by the civil society and the local authorities. In this way it is clear how the economic, political and social structures interfere and impact each other, since othering in one structure can strengthen othering in other structures. The findings further show how important it is to acknowledge that integration is a two-way process where the responsibility lies both on the political structures with its policies and approach, but also on the informal structures of socially created behaviour both among civil society and local authorities. The aspirations and possibilities for second-generation Afghan immigrants are different compared to first-generation Afghan immigrants, which result in different expectations, disappointments and lowered interest to stay in Iran. Since migrants in many countries become more long staying, a growing second-generation of migrants will be an increased phenomenon. It is therefore important to acknowledge their differences and how to best prepare for their needs. Further, the findings have presented that integration is a process and it is problematic, if not impossible, to decide where this process starts or ends. However, this case study shows, how having equal opportunities becomes the core of the integration process and the aspiration for second-generation immigrants. This study clearly displays an example of how integration, or lack thereof, should not be seen as a local or isolated concern. Due to the mobility of people, the situation for Afghans in Iran is also of great interest for neighbouring countries as well as other continents, which further shows how closely connected all countries are and how security and equality have to be universal in order for stability to occur. To support possibilities to create safe integration, is thus not only on the shoulders of the current host country, but the responsibility and interest of all countries involved in migration. It is therefore vital to pay attention to the integration challenges in countries such as Iran, if we want to understand and prepare for the migrant flows to other areas of the world. It is vital to acknowledge, that the situation for Afghans in Iran is influenced by the broader context of Iran’s international relationships with Afghanistan and other key actors within the international community, together with the security situation and drawdown of international forces in Afghanistan. Thus, it is clear that broader international tensions impact migrants living situation and it would be narrow sighted to blame the hosting country alone. Important factors are also Iran’s recent financial and economic crisis, which arguably have had an influence on the Afghans restrictions on the labour market and the overall tolerance of their presence in the country from the Iranian Government’s side. Thus, it is important to also look at the lack of international assistance to Iran, as the country struggles to meet the needs of its population and migration diaspora in a financially challenging period.
7.3 Steps forwardA lasting solution to the migrant situation in Iran will require not only increased Iranian respect towards migrants’ rights but also that Afghanistan and its foreign allies and international donors cooperate to assist in protecting Afghan migrants if they return to Afghanistan. A long-term solution for the millions of Afghan migrants residing in Iran is needed and the opportunity for them to gain citizenship in Iran or resettle needs to be well communicated, prepared for and further researched. Based on the findings, this study suggests future research to follow up the new school policy that encourage Afghans to study in Iran and the result of this, after some years in practice. Furthermore, the connection between integration and subjective well-being would be interesting for future research, together with research on how returnees are integrated when returned to their country of origin. Moreover, it would be interesting to, through a mixed method approach, combine this qualitative data with quantitative data to get a broader picture of the situation.
8 Broaden the perspectives – why local integration is of global interestIn order to determine what shapes the second-generation Afghan immigrants will to stay or leave Iran, some influencing factors become important. The overall negative feelings towards life, othering and lack of freedom in Iran in combination with the insecurity and increasing violence in Afghanistan, creates a desire to start a better life somewhere else and motivates the second-generation Afghan immigrants to look towards Europe as a new destination to resettle. The fact that Iran is one of the few Shia Muslim countries in the world constitutes an important factor to why some, especially first-generation Afghan immigrants from the Hazara group (since they share a Shia Muslim religious belief), want to stay and integrate in Iran. However, among the second-generation Afghan immigrants the interest to leave Iran and go to Europe is high. Some respondents explain the desire to move to Europe with that they are not seen as “real Iranians” in Iran and if they return to Afghanistan they will not be seen as “real Afghans” (Informant at UNAMA, Respondent G, Respondent I). Being seen as “the other” in the social sphere thus plays an important role in why second-generation Afghan immigrants want to leave Iran. It is possible, if not likely, that they will be seen as “others” even in a third country of settlement, but this seems however not to influence their interest in trying to start a new life in Europe (Respondent B, Respondent H). For many, the will to go to Europe seems to be a combination of having a positive picture of the opportunities there, but also a negative feeling over their current situation and lack of freedom in Iran. “Afghans are not welcome in Iran. […] And that contributes to the reason of traveling for Afghans from Iran to some other countries. And they are traveling because they think that Europe, or some other countries, will treat them better than Iranians do” (Mohammad at IOM). However, the will to go to Europe is also connected to that most of the Afghans see no safe opportunity to return to Afghanistan. The violence in Afghanistan is increasing and the insecurity in the country sees no end in the near future. Thus, the second-generation Afghan immigrants’ hope to return to their country of origin during their lifetime has vanished (Informant at WFP, Nastaran at NRC, Respondent J). The recent positive development in regards to education policies makes some second-generation Afghan immigrants consider staying in Iran, but the vast majority seems to prepare themselves to leave when the right moment arrives. This desire to leave Iran changes the country from a receiving country to a transit country in the eyes of the second-generation Afghan immigrants. Given that Europe is overwhelmingly often referred to as a desirable destination for second-generation Afghan immigrants, the reason behind why many have not left Iran yet, is because of the problematic refugee situation in Europe. The common perspective is thus that they have not abandoned the idea to go to Europe, they just postpone their departure and wait for the migration situation in Europe to improve (Informant at UNAMA, Mohammad at IOM, Respondent D, Respondent G). It seems like the way the second-generation Afghan immigrants romanticize Europe, and the life they dream about living there, simultaneously influence them to be less interested in staying and integrate in Iran. The primary factor behind why the second-generation Afghan immigrants, regardless of the migration situation in Europe and the insecurity in Afghanistan, still want to leave Iran is rooted in a will to have more freedoms than what is currently possible in the country. The difficulties to gain a citizenship, together with the restrictions that come with it, makes the second-generation Afghan immigrants striving for a life somewhere where they are less un-free and limited. This post-script chapter highlights that integration, or lack thereof, is not an isolated problem that only concerns the host country or the local community. The mobility of people shapes a situation where everyone who is unsatisfied with their living situation in one country, will try their best to seek a better future somewhere else. Hence, in order to find a sustainable solution for the current refugee situation in Europe, it is important to look beyond the development inside the European borders and widen the perspectives to understand also what is happening in nearby countries. Furthermore, in order to understand and foresee migrant movements, as well as to better prepare for a humane and sustainable integration when migrants resettle, attention has to be drawn to how migrants live and are treated in nearby countries. In other words, to increase equality between people of different origins, integration ought to be prioritized in the country of origin, as well as the migrant receiving countries.
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Appendix 1: List of respondents and informantsRespondents 18-25
- Respondent A – 7.11.2016, Tehran. 23 years old, man, student.
- Respondent B - 10.11.2016, Tehran. 20 years old, man, unemployed.
- Respondent C – 11.11.2016, Tehran. 24 years old, woman, unemployed.
- Respondent D – 15.11.2016, Tehran. 25 years old, man, construction worker.
- Respondent E – 18.11.2016, Tehran. 23 years old, woman, student.
- Respondent F – 25.11.2016, Tehran. 18 years old, man, street-cleaning.
- Respondent G – 30.11.2016, Tehran. 22 years old, woman, plastic manufacture.
- Respondent H – 2.12.2016, Tehran. 19 years old, woman, student.
- Respondent I – 4.12.2016, Tehran. 22 years old, woman, shoe factory.
- Respondent J – 5.12.2016, Tehran. 25 years old, man, road building and student.
- Mehrnas at Imam Ali Popular Students Society – 3.10.2016, Tehran.
- Hamed at UNHCR – 5.10.2016, Tehran.
- Informant at UNAMA – 30.10.2016, Tehran.
- Nastaran at NRC – 3.11.2016, Tehran
- Informant at DRC – 7.11.2016, Tehran.
- Dr. Abbasi-Shavazi at Tehran University, 13.11.2016, Tehran.
- Mohammad at IOM, 7.12.2016, Tehran.
- Informant at WFP – 12.12.2016, Tehran.
Appendix 2: Interview guide to respondents, second-generation Afghan immigrantsInterview guide Afghans
- How old are you?
- What is your occupation?
- What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?
- Where in Iran are you born?
- What does your parents work with?
- What Afghan ethnic group are you and your family?
- How would you present the way Iranians view Afghans in Iran?
- Are there any differences in how first- and second generation Afghans are treated in Iran?
- What is your picture of Iranians?
- What are your feelings towards Afghanistan?
- How do you feel about being a second-generation Afghan in Iran?
- Do you identify yourself with the Iranian culture?
- Have you ever lied about your identity or country of origin?
- To what extend does your social network include Iranians?
- Is there any difference between the relation you have towards your Iranian friends compared to your Afghan friends? Why?
- What are your feelings towards the local authorities in Iran?
- Would you go to the local authorities if you had something to report? If not, why?
- What is your perspective on the new policy that Afghans are allowed to enroll in Iranian schools?
- How do you experience the treatment of Afghans in Iranian schools by teachers and other students?
- Have this new education policy influenced your plans for the future? How?
- Do you feel restricted in the Iranian society? How?
- What do you thinks is the most important thing for Afghans in order to stay in Iran?
- How would you describe that the lack of citizenship affects your daily life in Iran?
- Would you like to stay in Iran or leave to Afghanistan or some other country?
- What would you describe as the main reason why you would like to stay in Iran?
- What would you describe as the main reason why you would like to leave Iran? Where would you like to go and why?
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