Traditionally, immigrants face a number of problems in the new community, when they arrive in a new country. To a significant extent, these problems are predetermined by a variety of factors, which can be basically summed up as economic and socio-cultural. In fact, immigrants have to get integrated in the new society that implies the necessity to change their traditional lifestyle, habits, learn new language and cultural norms and, what is more, get a stable financial position. In this respect, it is worthy of mention that often economic and socio-cultural factors are closely interrelated, though sometimes they are objectively independent from each other.
On analyzing the life of immigrants, it is primarily necessary to point out that, as a rule, they face the problem of the integration in the local community, which is accompanied by numerous difficulties caused by both economic and socio-cultural factors. To put it more precisely, when immigrants arrive in a new country probably the first problem they face is the problem of language. It is not a secret that many immigrants that arrive in a new country, such as the US, for instance, do not really know the local language. At any rate, the vast majority of immigrants have poor language skills and language proficiency.
At first glance, it seems to be a purely socio-cultural problem since language is traditionally referred to the cultural sphere but, in actuality, the problem is more profound than it might have seem to be at first. Actually, the language skills are of a paramount importance to the successful integration of an individual in the community. In the situation, when an immigrant has just arrived in a country, this is particularly important because he/she needs to develop normal social relations with other members of the community in order to find his/her place in the new society. In such a situation, the lack of language proficiency can be a serious barrier that will separate an immigrant from the rest of the local community and, thus, the communication between immigrants and local population may be quite irregular and ineffective.
Along with socio-cultural difficulties, the lack of language skills deteriorates the economic position of immigrants. In fact, it is obvious that immigrants, who know the local language, have more chances to get successfully employed, or at any rate, they get a better job compared to those immigrants who either do not know the local language or the knowledge is insufficient. As a rule, the payment gap between the two categories of immigrants may be quite wide and, what is more, the immigrants that lack the language proficiency are probably at the highest risk of being unemployed.
By the way, the purely economic problem of unemployment, as well as other economic problems, is also closely related to socio-cultural factors. It should be said that often immigrants cannot find a well-paid job and they turn to be practically unable to compete with the local labor force on the top level. Instead, immigrants usually tend to start with low or semi-qualified jobs and the language is not the only problem in this regard (Foner 2000). It is necessary to underline that such a lower position of immigrants is basically predetermined by their low educational level that may be also referred to socio-cultural sphere. Practically, it means that immigrants simply do not have qualification that would meet the local demands since, as a rule, immigrants move from developing countries to developed ones. Naturally, the gap in the quality of education turns to be extremely large and immigrants are in a disadvantageous economic position since the moment they have arrived to the new country.
However, the problems of immigrants do not disappear even though it is the second generation of immigrants. In actuality, the second generation of immigrants is also in a disadvantageous position compared to the local population because of the different initial opportunities they have (Portes and Ruben 2001). To put it more precisely, economically they originate from the lower class families. Naturally, the low economic status of their families deprives them of an opportunity to get a higher education or, at least, it is much more difficult for immigrants than for local people.
At the same time, they face another socio-cultural problem that is not related to economic factors – the problem of the necessity to develop different models of behavior in their own family or their ethnic group and in the local community. In other words, the cultural and social norms of immigrants differ from those of the local community. Consequently, the second generation of immigrants face a dilemma what model of behavior to develop traditional one, or probably it would be better to adapt to the local culture. As a rule, the second and further generations of immigrants chose a kind of compromise: they follow their traditional norms and regulations within their families and ethnic group, while, being in a local community, for instance, at school, they get assimilated and behave according to the local norms (Portes and Ruben 2001). In this respect, it is worthy of mention that the difference in cultural norms may differ dramatically, to the extent that one and the same person may be totally different in different socio-cultural environment.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that immigrants face a number of serious socio-cultural and economic problems. Unquestionably, the existing problems are often closely interlinked and lead to the numerous difficulties immigrants face in a new country. In the result of cultural differences and lack of language knowledge, as well as the lack of some professional skills and abilities lead them to the situation when they cannot find a good or just normal job. As a result, they are forced to occupy low socio-economic position in the new community and, what is more, even the next generation or even generations are in a disadvantageous position because of the existing economic and socio-cultural gaps between their ethnic group and the rest of society. Nevertheless, economic factors are not always related to socio-cultural ones and, in this respect, it is worthy to remind the problem of assimilation and necessity to keep ethnic cultural traditions the second generation of immigrants often faces.
1. Foner, Nancy. From Ellis Island to JFK. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000.
2. Portes, Alehandro, and Ruben G. Rumbaut. Legacies: the Story of the Immigrant Second Generation. Los Angeles: University of California P, 2001.