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Title: The Double-tie: Ethnicity and Interests among Transnational Second generation Italians in Switzerland
Author: Wessendorf, Susanne
ISNI:       0000 0001 1874 5930
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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The children of Italian migrants comprise a sizable and for many observers a model minority in Switzerland. Their parents migrated from the rural areas of southern Italy during the post-Second World War period. Although they dreamt of returning, the majority of Italian migrants ended up staying in Switzerland. However, lively translocal relations to their villages of origin were maintained. Despite this. shared background, members of the second generation have developed divergent and sometimes contrasting social affiliations and feelings of belonging to Italian and non-Italian social milieus. Why are there such different ways in which the children of Italian migrants relate to the transnational and local social milieus in which they live? What kinds of social, cultural and structural conditions have shaped these social affiliations and· feelings of belonging? Existing literature on the second generation variously engages concepts of transnationalism, integration and ethnicity and describes different ways in which the children of migrants maintain transnational relations to the country of origin, while at the same time forming social affiliations and feelings of belonging in the host country. Although useful for answering the questions raised above, these concepts have rareiy been linked by way of interrogating how transnationalism, ethnicity and integration mutually shape each other. Furthermore, current studies mainly focus on adolescents rather than adults, neglecting how social affiliations and feelings of belonging can change in the course of time. Also, when taking a comparative approach, such studies compare members of the second generation of one ethnic origin with those of other ethnic origins, respectively presuming commonalities on the grounds of shared ethnicity. My research aims to expand such studies by focusing on adult members of the second generation of the same origin, and by showing that despite the shared ethnic background, different social affiliations and feelings of belonging emerge in the course of individuals' lives. While the 'Corso Italians' created a second-generation Italian youth culture in which they celebrated their Italianness, the 'Swiss Italians' formed relations with people of Swiss or other backgrounds. Later in life, some of the Corso Italians decided to migrate to their parents' village of origin, a phenomenon I conceptualise as 'roots-migration'. In contrast, some of the Swiss Italians founded a political movement to claim facilitated access to Swiss citizenship. These political activists, the 'secondos', emphasise their belonging to Switzerland. By describing these varied social affiliations and feelings of belonging, I discuss why ethnicity and transnational relations are relevant for some people and during specific periods of their lives, while they cease to be important for others. I thereby suggest the notion of a 'double-tie', referring to the development of social affiliations and patterns of belonging to co-ethnics not only on the basis of shared ethnicity, but also other factors such as common interests. With this notion of a 'double-tie', I question the idea that the ethnic background alone is relevant to patterns of identification. Rather, it is the existence or non-existence of a 'double-tie' which underlies ethnic or non-ethnic social affiliations and feelings of belonging.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available