Compatriots living in the USА as a reference group of contemporary Ukrainian migrants
AbstractThe article is focused on studying of how modern Ukrainian migrants in the USA position themselves within the refer¬ence groups of other Ukrainians who also are living in American society. Studying the reference groups is one of the ap-proaches that can help determine the features and degree of migrants’ social adaptation in a new place and the directions of their social mobility. Since the study is based on the theory of transnationalism, the status of local ethnic refer¬ence groups has been analyzed in relation to other types of migrant’s reference groups, for example, Ukrainians who lived in Ukrainian society and Americans (not Ukrainians) in USA. The survey was conducted in 2015 and aimed to study social and ethnic identities and practices of Ukrainian migrants in the United States. 31 semi-structured interviews with first-generation Ukrainian migrants residing in the USA have been used as an empirical basis for analysis. The main outcomes of the research are as follows. A relationship has been found between the type of identification with the local ethnic reference groups, as well as the way of their use, on the one hand, and the degree of social adaptation of migrants, on the other. As a result, several trends have been identified. First, an increase in the degree of success of social adaptation and an increase in the chances for upward mobility, due to the integration of migrants into the American society through membership in legitimate socially effective migration organizations, as well as an orientation toward their norms and values. Second, simplification of the process of social adaptation of migrants through identification with a group of local Ukrainians at the stage of initial integration into American society, with a tendency to slow integration and narrowing the chances of social mobility in the later stages of social adaptation. Third, the expansion of social opportunities for migrants, due to the incorporation of Ukrainian reference groups (compatriots in Ukraine and Ukrainians in the United States) into a system of new ones connected with American society (different-ethnic groups and common Americans). However, none of the groups is given an exclusive priority in references, its status depends on the specifics of the social context.
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