project . 2013 - 2016 . Closed

Marriage Migration and Integration

UK Research and Innovation
Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: ES/K006495/1
Funded under: ESRC Funder Contribution: 255,781 GBP
Status: Closed
31 Aug 2013 (Started) 29 Jun 2016 (Ended)

Spouses constitute the largest category of migrant settlement in the UK (40% in 2009). In Britain, as elsewhere in Europe, concern is increasingly expressed over the implications of marriage migration for integration. In some ethnic minority groups, significant numbers of children and grandchildren of former migrants to the UK continue to marry partners from their ancestral homelands. Such marriages are presented as particularly problematic. A 'first generation' of spouses in every generation is thought to inhibit processes of individual and group integration, impeding socio-economic participation and cultural change for both parties in the marriage. New immigration restrictions likely to impact particularly on such groups have thus been justified on the grounds of promoting integration. The evidence base to underpin this concern is, however, surprisingly limited. The principle aim of this project is to enhance understanding of the relationships between marriage-related migration and these complex processes of integration, providing much needed new grounding for both policy and academic debates. Discussion of integration is also characterized by differing and often partial understandings of the concept, which is contested and politicized. In this project, we adopt a multi-level conceptualization of integration as: 1. Referring to processes of migrant and host society interaction: a. Spanning several domains (structural, social, cultural, civic, political and identity). These may be separate or interacting. b. A two-way process affected by both the actions and attributes of migrants, but also by factors in the receiving society which may facilitate or impede integration. 2. Part of discourses of national belonging, which may themselves be perceived as exclusionary. Indicators used to measure integration in quantitative research may also however be used as indicators of related concepts of ethnic inequality and cultural difference, complicating assessments of the integration impact of transnational marriages. In order to disentangle the effects of transnational marriage from those related to ethnic minority membership, we need not just survey research, but the more complex information provided by qualitative methods. This project will focus on the two largest UK populations involved in this genre of marriage migration: Pakistani Muslims and Indian Sikhs. To reflect the diversity of these populations and localities in which they are settled, research will focus on two geographical areas with differing characteristics: West Yorkshire and Bristol. In the first stage of the project, we will analyse available quantitative data to create a background picture of the associations between transnational marriage and various indicators of integration. We will then carry out semi-structured interviews with 64 couples to generate a new body of qualitative data with which to explore processes underlying associations identified in the quantitative data, and identify new avenues for enquiry. In order to bring the role of transnational marriage in these processes to the fore, participants will be sampled through pairs of siblings with contrasting marriage choices, i.e. where one sibling's marriage is transnational, and one took place within the ethnic population in the UK. Together, these two stages of research will allow us to develop nuanced understandings of the relationships between marriage migration and processes of integration in these significant populations. The comparisons between regions, and between ethnic groups will allow us to identify impacts particular to certain contexts, and those which are common in all, and so may also have relevance for other migrant spouses and their partners. These improvements in understandings are necessary not only for scholarship in this area, but also to inform service provision and assist in developing more targeted policy interventions.

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