Language skills and intergenerational mobility of immigrants

Project leaders:
Amado Alarcón
Luis Garzón; Carmen Cincunegui; Sonia Parella; Leonardo Cavalcanti; Iskra Pávez; Francesc Valls; Rafael Böcker; David Dueñas; Ignasi Brunet; Amado Alarcón
Proposed start date:
Proposed end date:

Funded by AGAUR - Generalitat de Catalunya

This research project addresses the role of the Catalan language in the social mobility of children of immigrants living in Catalonia. Given the relative newness of the inclusion of children of immigrants (whether born in Catalonia or coming for porposes of family reunification), the aim of this research is to identify the main trends in order to establish proposals actions on equality and the accommodation of this group. Our starting point is that knowledge of the Catalan language has positive effects on social mobility, which explains the instrumental value of this language.

We observed how an heterogeneous group of bilingual people who do not necessarily have any of the official languages as their mother tongue (immigrant or children of immigrants) fit in a society politically bilingual. In our analysis we focused on two main groups: children of immigrants from South America (mainly from Colombia) and another group of north African origin, particularly those with parents from Morocco.

Methodologically, we focused on the biographical information of immigrant families. We focused on the family because the study of social mobility requires a point of origin (parents' social position) and a point of arrival (social position of children). In order to place these positions of arrival or at least observe trends significant enough, families accomplish the following conditions:

  • They are more than 18
  • They were born in Catalonia or they are living in Catalonia for more than 10 years
  • They have been enrolled in school in Catalonia (not necessarily from kindergarten)
  • S’han emancipat residencialment dels seus pares
  • They are emancipated and don't live with their parents

Although this group is at present relatively numerous group, the qualitative approach adopted by this study through biographical interviews to parents and children allowed us to capture the main trends in this group related to the objectives of the study.