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Frames of reference for comparison of three immigrant groups in Belgium: the case of Turkish, North African and Eastern European immigrants

Lore Van Praag UGent, Peter Stevens UGent and Mieke Van Houtte UGent (2012) European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, Abstracts.
abstract
This study builds on ongoing debates on the usefulness of Ogbu's (Ogbu, 1984; 2008; Ogbu & Simons, 1998) cultural-ecological theory by exploring the importance of various community forces in shaping educational aspirations of three different voluntary migrant groups in Flanders (Belgium). Since the first waves of labor migration to Belgium after WW II, immigrant children underachieved in school compared to their Belgian peers. As most immigrants came voluntarily to Belgium, these underachieving results conflict with Ogbu’s cultural-ecological model, in which he distinguishes between two main groups based on the shared collective history of different racial/ethnic groups. This model predicts that voluntary immigrants (such as Asian immigrants in the US) have better educational outcomes compared to the involuntary non-immigrants (such as African Americans in the US). According to Ogbu, these educational outcomes of immigrants are the result of both ‘the system’ and ‘community forces’. ‘The system’ consists out of educational policies at different levels, the treatment of minority children in school and the societal rewards that minority students receive when achieving. In addition, ‘community forces’ refer to minority community factors and exist out of the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors related to education, found in migrant communities, and these interact with ‘the system’. Community forces include the frame of reference for comparison, instrumental beliefs about schooling, a relational domain, such as perennial conflicts, the degree of trust and mistrust toward school and school personnel, the belief about the role of schooling in the subordination or oppression of the group, and finally, expressive factors, such as collective identity and cultural and language frames of reference. Ogbu's theory has not received unequivocal support when tested in non-settler countries with respect to voluntary immigrant groups because recent migrant countries have different migration histories and political and economic relations with their former colonies (Eldering, 1997; Van Zanten, 1997; Hermans, 2004; Gibson, 1997), and fails to explain within-group variations, or variations within voluntary/involuntary immigrant groups (Akom, 2008; Gibson, 1997; Matute-Bianchi, 2008). In order to test Ogbu's theory and develop a deeper understanding of why certain immigrant groups might follow or deviate from Ogbu's predictions, this study compares one community force, namely the ‘frame of reference for comparison’, that underpins the development of such aspirations within and between three different voluntary immigrant groups in the same Flemish (Belgian) city: Turkish, North-African and Eastern European secondary school students. More specific, the internal variability within the voluntary immigrant category is examined. These immigrant groups have different comparison groups as they have different migration histories, length of their stay in Belgium and the migration networks, and the utility of Ogbu’s cultural-ecological model and typology for a non-settler society is tested. Methods: This paper is based on ethnographic research conducted between 2009-2011 in three secondary schools in a large Flemish city: St.-Bernardus, Mountain High and Heartbreak High. St.-Bernardus is large, catholic, co-educational and multilateral school that offers professional, technical and academic tracks. Mountain High and Heartbreak High are medium-sized, non-religious co-educational and categorical schools. Mountain High only offers academic tracks and Heartbreak High only offers technical and vocational tracks. Nine class groups from fifth-grade of secondary school (with one exceptional seventh-grade) were selected, based on the field of study they followed and the presence of immigrant students. Fieldwork was conducted for two or three weeks per class group. After this intensive period of naturalistic observations and getting to know the students, teachers and school, qualitative, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were taken from the respondents of each class. Out of the sample of 124 respondents, 33 Turkish descent, 17 North-African descent and 14 Eastern European descent students are analyzed. The selected city is situated in Flanders, the Dutch linguistic community of Belgium, and known for its dense Turkish community, a more heterogeneous group of North African immigrants and a smaller group of immigrants that arrived more recently from different Eastern European countries. Results: Results indicate that although Turkish and North African students migrated voluntarily, they already reside for more than one generation in Belgium which affects students’ frame of reference for comparison and resembles the situation that Ogbu described for involuntary non-migrants. Both immigrant groups’ frame of reference differs because of the density of their immigrant community in the selected city: Turkish students have a more dense community and therefore this immigrant community serves as a frame of reference for comparison, while North African students have more heterogeneous communities and parental education is a more crucial factor for their educational strategies. In contrast, due to their different migration history, Eastern European students’ frame of reference for comparison are similar to the voluntary immigrants from Ogbu’s typology, as these students migrated during their school career and have lived in their country of origin for some years. The findings suggest that Ogbu’s theory offers an interesting framework but fails to consider the importance of particular determining factors, such as the migration histories, migrant networks and length of stay, in order to explain the observed differences between these three voluntary groups and further refine Ogbu’s theory. References: Akom, A. A. (2008a). Reexamining resistance as oppositional behavior: the nation of islam and the creation of a black achievement ideology (the remix). In J.U.Ogbu (Ed.), Minority status, oppositional culture, & schooling (pp. 190-221). New York and London: Routledge. Eldering, L. (1997). Ethnic minority students in the Netherlands from a cultural-ecological perspective. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 28, 330-350. Gibson, M. (1997). Complicating the immigrant/involuntary minority typology. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 18, 335-356. Hermans, P. (2004). Applying Ogbu's theory of minority academic achievement to the situation of Moroccans in the Low countries. Intercultural education, 15, 431-438. Matute-Bianchi M.E. (2008). Situational ethnicity and patterns of school performance among immigrant and nonimmigrant Mexican-descent students. In J.U.Ogbu (Ed.), Minority status, oppositional culture, & schooling (pp. 397-432). New York and London: Routledge. Ogbu, J. U. (2008). Minority status, oppositional culture, & schooling (pp. 3-28). New York and London: Routledge. Ogbu, J. U. & Simons, H. D. (1998). Voluntary and involuntary minorities: A cultural-ecological theory of school performance with some implications for education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 29, 155-188. Van Zanten, A. (1997). Schooling Immigrants in France in the 1990s: Success or Failure of the Republican Model of Integration? Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 28, 351-374.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
in
European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, Abstracts
conference name
European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All
conference location
Cádiz, Spain
conference start
2012-09-18
conference end
2012-09-21
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C3
id
3022052
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-3022052
date created
2012-10-11 09:47:19
date last changed
2012-10-15 14:16:34
@inproceedings{3022052,
  abstract     = {This study builds on ongoing debates on the usefulness of Ogbu's (Ogbu, 1984; 2008; Ogbu \& Simons, 1998) cultural-ecological theory by exploring the importance of various community forces in shaping educational aspirations of three different voluntary migrant groups in Flanders (Belgium). Since the first waves of labor migration to Belgium after WW II, immigrant children underachieved in school compared to their Belgian peers. As most immigrants came voluntarily to Belgium, these underachieving results conflict with Ogbu{\textquoteright}s cultural-ecological model, in which he distinguishes between two main groups based on the shared collective history of different racial/ethnic groups. This model predicts that voluntary immigrants (such as Asian immigrants in the US) have better educational outcomes compared to the involuntary non-immigrants (such as African Americans in the US). According to Ogbu, these educational outcomes of immigrants are the result of both {\textquoteleft}the system{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}community forces{\textquoteright}. {\textquoteleft}The system{\textquoteright} consists out of educational policies at different levels, the treatment of minority children in school and the societal rewards that minority students receive when achieving. In addition, {\textquoteleft}community forces{\textquoteright} refer to minority community factors and exist out of the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors related to education, found in migrant communities, and these interact with {\textquoteleft}the system{\textquoteright}. Community forces include the frame of reference for comparison, instrumental beliefs about schooling, a relational domain, such as perennial conflicts, the degree of trust and mistrust toward school and school personnel, the belief about the role of schooling in the  subordination or oppression of the group, and finally, expressive factors, such as collective identity and cultural and language frames of reference. Ogbu's theory has not received unequivocal support when tested in non-settler countries with respect to voluntary immigrant groups because recent migrant countries have different migration histories and political and economic relations with their former colonies (Eldering, 1997; Van Zanten, 1997; Hermans, 2004; Gibson, 1997), and fails to explain within-group variations, or variations within voluntary/involuntary immigrant groups (Akom, 2008; Gibson, 1997; Matute-Bianchi, 2008). In order to test Ogbu's theory and develop a deeper understanding of why certain immigrant groups might follow or deviate from Ogbu's predictions, this study compares one community force, namely the {\textquoteleft}frame of reference for comparison{\textquoteright}, that underpins the development of such aspirations within and between three different voluntary immigrant groups in the same Flemish (Belgian) city: Turkish, North-African and Eastern European secondary school students. More specific, the internal variability within the voluntary immigrant category is examined. These immigrant groups have different comparison groups  as they have different migration histories, length of their stay in Belgium and the migration networks, and the utility of Ogbu{\textquoteright}s cultural-ecological model  and typology for a non-settler society is tested. Methods: This paper is based on ethnographic research conducted between 2009-2011 in three secondary schools in a large Flemish city: St.-Bernardus, Mountain High and Heartbreak High. St.-Bernardus is large, catholic, co-educational and multilateral school that offers professional, technical and academic tracks. Mountain High and Heartbreak High are medium-sized, non-religious co-educational and categorical schools. Mountain High only offers academic tracks and Heartbreak High only offers technical and vocational tracks. Nine class groups from fifth-grade of secondary school (with one exceptional seventh-grade) were selected, based on the field of study they followed and the presence of immigrant students. Fieldwork was conducted for two or three weeks per class group. After this intensive period of naturalistic observations and getting to know the students, teachers and school, qualitative, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were taken from the respondents of each class. Out of the sample of 124 respondents, 33 Turkish descent, 17 North-African descent and 14 Eastern European descent students are analyzed. The selected city is situated in Flanders, the Dutch linguistic community of Belgium, and known for its dense Turkish community, a more heterogeneous group of North African immigrants and a smaller group of immigrants that arrived more recently from different Eastern European countries. Results: Results indicate that although Turkish and North African students migrated voluntarily, they already reside for more than one generation in Belgium which affects students{\textquoteright} frame of reference for comparison and resembles the situation that Ogbu described for involuntary non-migrants. Both immigrant groups{\textquoteright} frame of reference differs because of the density of their immigrant community in the selected city: Turkish students have a more dense community and therefore this immigrant community serves as a frame of reference for comparison, while North African students have more heterogeneous communities and parental education is a more crucial factor for their educational strategies. In contrast, due to their different migration history, Eastern European students{\textquoteright} frame of reference for comparison are similar to the voluntary immigrants from Ogbu{\textquoteright}s typology, as these students migrated during their school career and have lived in their country of origin for some years. The findings suggest that Ogbu{\textquoteright}s theory offers an interesting framework but fails to consider the importance of particular determining factors, such as the migration histories, migrant networks and length of stay, in order to explain the observed differences between these three voluntary groups and further refine Ogbu{\textquoteright}s theory. References: Akom, A. A. (2008a). Reexamining resistance as oppositional behavior: the nation of islam and the creation of a black achievement ideology (the remix). In J.U.Ogbu (Ed.), Minority status, oppositional culture, \& schooling (pp. 190-221). New York and London: Routledge. Eldering, L. (1997). Ethnic minority students in the Netherlands from a cultural-ecological perspective. Anthropology \& Education Quarterly, 28, 330-350. Gibson, M. (1997). Complicating the immigrant/involuntary minority typology. Anthropology \& Education Quarterly, 18, 335-356. Hermans, P. (2004). Applying Ogbu's theory of minority academic achievement to the situation of Moroccans in the Low countries. Intercultural education, 15, 431-438. Matute-Bianchi M.E. (2008). Situational ethnicity and patterns of school performance among immigrant and nonimmigrant Mexican-descent students. In J.U.Ogbu (Ed.), Minority status, oppositional culture, \& schooling (pp. 397-432). New York and London: Routledge. Ogbu, J. U. (2008). Minority status, oppositional culture, \& schooling (pp. 3-28). New York and London: Routledge. Ogbu, J. U. \& Simons, H. D. (1998). Voluntary and involuntary minorities: A cultural-ecological theory of school performance with some implications for education. Anthropology \& Education Quarterly, 29, 155-188.\unmatched{0009}Van Zanten, A. (1997). Schooling Immigrants in France in the 1990s: Success or Failure of the Republican Model of Integration? Anthropology \& Education Quarterly, 28, 351-374.},
  author       = {Van Praag, Lore and Stevens, Peter and Van Houtte, Mieke},
  booktitle    = {European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {C{\'a}diz, Spain},
  title        = {Frames of reference for comparison of three immigrant groups in Belgium: the case of Turkish, North African and Eastern European immigrants},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Van Praag, Lore, Peter Stevens, and Mieke Van Houtte. 2012. “Frames of Reference for Comparison of Three Immigrant Groups in Belgium: The Case of Turkish, North African and Eastern European Immigrants.” In European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, Abstracts.
APA
Van Praag, L., Stevens, P., & Van Houtte, M. (2012). Frames of reference for comparison of three immigrant groups in Belgium: the case of Turkish, North African and Eastern European immigrants. European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, Abstracts. Presented at the European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All.
Vancouver
1.
Van Praag L, Stevens P, Van Houtte M. Frames of reference for comparison of three immigrant groups in Belgium: the case of Turkish, North African and Eastern European immigrants. European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, Abstracts. 2012.
MLA
Van Praag, Lore, Peter Stevens, and Mieke Van Houtte. “Frames of Reference for Comparison of Three Immigrant Groups in Belgium: The Case of Turkish, North African and Eastern European Immigrants.” European Conference on Educational Research : The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, Abstracts. 2012. Print.