Compatriots in Ukraine as a reference group of modern Ukrainian migrants in the USA: consequences for social mobility

  • N. V. Vashrova The Mogilev Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belaru
  • V. V. Volodko Ivan Franko national university of Lviv
Keywords: social identity, cultural identity social adaptation, transnational migration.


The article is focused on studying of how modern Ukrainian migrants in the USA position themselves within the reference groups related to Ukrainian society and people who are living in Ukraine. Studying the reference groups is one of the approaches that can help determine the features and degree of migrants’ social adaptation in a new place and the directions of their social mobility. The nature of the connection between Ukrainian migrants and their reference groups at home, the reasons for the occurrence or loss of relations and the role it plays in the social advancement of Ukrainians in American society have been found out during the research. Since the study is based on the theory of transnationalism, the status of Ukrainian society reference groups has been analyzed in relation to other types of migrant’s reference groups, for example, local ethnic and American. 31 semi-structured interviews with first-generation Ukrainian migrants residing in the USA have been used as an empirical basis for analysis. The survey was conducted in 2015 and aimed to study social and ethnic identities and practices of Ukrainian migrants in the United States. The main outcomes of the research are as follows. Speaking of first-generation migrants it has been noted that their identification with people living in Ukraine has undergone a multi-directional transformation.In some cases, the former social-ethnic identification was weakened or completely lost, while in others it was reinforced or even arose for the first time. A relationship has been found between the type of identification with the 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, the situation of dynamic social progress due to the reliance on identification associated with the reference groups in Ukraine at the stage of initial adaptation. Second, the tendency towards disintegration with American society and narrowing the chances of social mobility, due to the closure of the social-cultural patterns of Ukrainian society in the later stages of social adaptation. Third, the situation of simultaneous social advancement and maintaining close ties with reference groups in Ukraine due to acquiring a social status, confirmed by active participation in civil initiatives in Ukraine or Ukrainian-American projects. Fourth, the expansion of social opportunities for migrants, due to the integration of Ukrainian reference groups into a system of new ones, connected with American society.


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How to Cite
Vashrova, N., & Volodko, V. (2017). Compatriots in Ukraine as a reference group of modern Ukrainian migrants in the USA: consequences for social mobility. Grani, 20(4), 17-23.