The Acculturation of Arab Immigrants in the U.S.

The Acculturation of Arab Immigrants in the U.S.

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The Acculturation of Arab Immigrants in the U.S.

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1. The Acculturation of Arab Immigrants in the U.S. Presented by Mohamed Abu-Qaoud

3. Arab-Americans There has been little research conducted on the acculturation of immigrants from Arabic-speaking countries Surprising since Arab immigrants have been coming to the United States since at least 1854, and they may number up to three million today

4. More on Arab-Americans Represent diverse regions from the Middle East and North Africa Heritage of common linguistic, cultural, and political traditions Most (47%) from Lebanon Only 23% are Muslim; majority are Christian

5. Acculturation of Arab-Americans Studies suggest that Arabs find acculturation to be more difficult than many other immigrant groups Especially true for those who are Muslim Feel as though they are viewed more as Arabs, and less as Americans Why is this so? Look at the acculturation of Irish immigrants for answers

6. Irish-Americans Today the United States is home to over 44 million Irish-Americans About 400,000 Irish-origin residents were already present in 1790 Greatest immigration during The Irish Famine of 1846-1850. Initially regarded as inferior, and faced discrimination

7. More on Irish-Americans Climbed occupational and social ladders through politically appointed positions such as policeman, fireman, and teacher Second and third generation Irish were better educated, wealthier, and more successful than were their parents and grandparents Example: Kennedy family

8. Acculturation of Irish-Americans One of the most successfully acculturated groups in America Many believe that Irish immigrants face fewer obstacles to the ?migration adjustment process? due to certain characteristics of this group Well-established ethnic communities English-speaking Europeans Share many American values

9. Factors Affecting Acculturation Hypothesis: Longer residence in the U.S., a high number and distribution of the immigrant group, as well as intermarriage will lead to greater acculturation Distinguishing physical characteristics of the group, cultural and religious differences, and discrimination will lead to a lower level of acculturation

10. Length of Residence Past Studies: Length of Residence is positively correlated with acculturation and life satisfaction of immigrants Comparison between Irish and Arab immigrants: There were Americans of Irish heritage present before 1790, but most Irish immigrants did not arrive until late 1840s Even though the first Arabs immigrated around 1854, the majority has not been arriving here until relatively recently

11. Size and Distribution Past Studies: Not much research relating size of immigrant group to acculturation Dispersed groups have a higher level of acculturation and are more likely to intermarry Comparison: Arab-Americans concentrated in various regions of U.S. Irish-Americans were initially concentrated, but sheer number and length of residence has led to dispersion

12. Intermarriage Past Studies: Intermarriage is positively correlated with acculturation of an immigrant group, but those that are more acculturated are more likely to intermarry (feedback process) Comparison: Irish immigrants are more likely to intermarry since they are more similar to the majority population with regards to physical characteristics, culture, and religion As a result, Irish immigrants are more acculturated, and thus further likely to intermarry

13. Physical Characteristics Past Studies: Physical characteristics that distinguish immigrants from the majority population are likely to hinder acculturation This is probably because they make the immigrants easier targets for discrimination Comparison: Some Arabs have darker skin tones, and distinguishing physical characteristics Irish look very similar to the majority population in the United States

14. Discrimination Past Studies: Discrimination is negatively correlated to acculturation. In fact, the effect of intermarriage on acculturation is somewhat dependent on a lack of discrimination by the mainstream culture In the U.S., discrimination against Arab-Americans is more tolerated than against other minorities This is especially true following the 9/11 attacks, which involved Arab terrorists Americans view Arab-Americans as ?outsiders? even if they were born in the U.S., and can no longer speak Arabic

15. Cultural and Religious Differences Past Studies: Such differences are negatively correlated with acculturation Intermarriage is more closely related to religion than to ethnicity Comparison: Arab cultures have more traditional cultures, and Islam is the dominant religion Ireland is more similar in political and cultural values to U.S., and the majority religion is Christianity

16. Positive Aspects of Acculturation Mental Health There is a negative correlation between the rate of acculturation and scores on the depression and anxiety scale The less acculturated an individual, the more depressed and/or anxious he/she tends to be This results in strain on marriage and family life, possibly leading to divorce Satisfaction of Life There is a strong positive correlation between acculturation and a high quality of life in the U.S.

17. Increasing Acculturation Dispersal of individuals from immigrant groups Necessitates that the immigrants adapt to American culture Increases intermarriage Dispersal may occur naturally as the length of residence of an immigrant group in the U.S. increases Reducing Discrimination Balancing media portrayals of Arabs in order to diminish stereotypes Educational forums for communities

18. Negative Aspects of Acculturation If immigrants become completely assimilated, the diversity which makes America unique in this world could be dramatically reduced Immigrants may lose their sense of ethnic identity Problems within the family caused by cultural conflicts between children and parents

19. Conclusion It appears that length of residence, distribution, and intermarriage all have a positive correlation with acculturation, while distinguishing physical characteristics, cultural and religious differences, and discrimination have a negative correlation with acculturation Discrimination seems to be the most important factor affecting acculturation. While reducing discrimination will be a very difficult task that will take years, this must be made a priority. I believe that the key for happiness and success for immigrants in the U.S. is to make the adjustment to the new culture while also maintaining a part of their ethnic identity

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