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Migraciones internacionales

versión impresa ISSN 1665-8906

Migr. Inter vol.6 no.2 Tijuana jul./dic. 2011




Factors Explaining the Integration, Identity and Sense of Belonging to Spanish Society among Youth Immigrants in Huelva


Factores explicativos de la integración, identidad y pertenencia a la sociedad española de jóvenes inmigrantes en Huelva


Estrella Gualda Caballero


Universidad de Huelva. Dirección electrónica:


Date of receipt: January 15, 2010.
Date of acceptance: May 24, 2010.



In this article on the social processes of integration in adolescents and youth, we describe and explain the factors which, in a representative sample of 413 immigrant adolescents in Huelva, Spain, are linked to having a sense of belonging to Spain. Approximately fifty percent of those interviewed reported a sense of belonging to Spain, although the degree of belonging to this country was lower or non–existent in other cases. This paper attempts to delimit the elements that largely explain the degree of the sense of belonging to a country, which is crucial to understanding the processes of identificative integration. We found several variables linked to the sense of belonging to Spain: life satisfaction, structural opportunities perceived in Spain, orientation towards the Spanish language (monolingual or bilingual), multiple territorial identification, participation in Spanish celebrations and activities, and trust in Spanish people.

Keywords: second generation immigrants, youth, social integration, cultural identity, Spain.



En este artículo, enmarcado en los procesos de integración de adolescentes y jóvenes inmigrantes, describimos y explicamos los factores que, en una muestra representativa de 413 menores inmigrantes en Huelva y provincia, se encuentran ligados al hecho de sentirse pertenecientes a España. La mitad de los entrevistados declararon sentirse parte de este país, mientras que el grado de pertenencia expresado fue intermedio o nulo en el resto de los casos. Este trabajo trata de deslindar los elementos que en mayor medida contribuyen a explicar el grado de sentimiento de pertenencia al país, siendo conscientes de la importancia que esto tiene para entender los procesos de integración identificativa. Las principales variables que se encontraron asociadas al sentimiento de pertenencia a España fueron la satisfacción con la vida, las oportunidades estructurales percibidas en este país, la orientación hacia el idioma nacional (monolingüismo y bilingüismo), una identificación territorial múltiple u orientada a España, la participación en celebraciones y actividades del país, así como la confianza hacia los españoles.

Palabras clave: segunda generación de inmigrantes, juventud, integración social, identidad cultural, España.



Research on the social integration of adolescents, young immigrants and children of immigrants, in which the study of the subjective sense of belonging could be framed, has been addressed from different points of view by the international literature. Some works with a high impact (Portes and Rumbaut, 2006; Portes and Fernández–Kelly, 2008; Rumbaut, 2008) study the pathways, living conditions and integration of "second generation" immigrants (or distinctions relating to first, first–and–a–half and second generations). In other traditions, reflecting the European debate on the subject (López, 2007; Simon, 2003, 2005; Thomson and Crul, 2007; Crul and Vermeulen, 2003) the use of the term "second–generation"—which refers to the children of foreign origin—is not considered to be relevant, and is sometimes even denied (López, 2007). So when the offspring were born in their parents' migratory destination, some authors argue, quite rigidly, that coherent generational succession may not occur, and that therefore the concept of "second generation" makes no sense since children were already born in their parents' migratory destination. Researchers therefore prefer to refer to the children of immigrants or to adolescents, youth or children. In some European spheres, the term is rejected because "second generation" is often associated with the stigmatization of this group.

In the United States the desirability of maintaining a differentiated study of generations of immigrants is reinforced when several studies on third or later generations, particularly those concerning Latinos or Chicanos, emphasize that school drop–out rates, violence and discrimination persist among these groups, even if they have achieved U.S. citizenship and English monolingualism (Chávez–Reyes, 2010; Peguero, 2009; Suárez–Orozco, Rhodes and Milburn, 2009). Other studies address the issue of immigrant minors (whether youth or adolescents) without specifying or distinguishing whether they belong to either generation and focusing instead on the problems arising from the situation of unaccompanied minors or unaccompanied alien children (known in Spain as menas or minas) (Comisión Europea, 2010; Save the Children, 2003; Suárez, 2004).

If we pay attention to the particular context in which this paper is situated, Spain, the nomenclature becomes more complex in that the sociodemographic types found there involve a broad mix of life experiences in adolescents and young immigrants. And indeed, the province of Huelva in which this study was carried out is no exception to this diversity. Huelva is a province belonging to the Spanish region of Andalusia, located in southwestern Europe. It borders on the Algarve (Portugal) to the west, and the Andalusian province of Seville to the east. This province is located in the north of Africa, about 300 miles from Morocco (Google, 2011). It is internationally known as the place where Christopher Columbus first set sail for the Americas. A group of municipalities in Huelva, no more than half an hour's drive from the capital (known locally as coastal areas and county areas) have a strong agricultural vocation, based on intensive agriculture and specializing in strawberries. Not surprisingly, this province is the leading producer of strawberries and large strawberries in Spain (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino, 2009) and a major global producer of these fruits (FAO, 2010), which have been the basis, especially since the 1990s, of a heavy flow of immigrants.

In our fieldwork, we found teenagers, young immigrants and immigrants' children with various types of life history:

• Immigrant minors,2 who entered the country alone, without being accompanied by an adult (they may be described as ums or Unaccompanied Minors although this is not the only category of unaccompanied children/minors).

• Immigrants' children who came here accompanying adults. When they change their place of residence after migration, they are as much "immigrants" as their parents,3 although they themselves did not decide to migrate and therefore, sometimes do not recognize themselves as immigrants.

• Children of foreign origin who were born in Spain, with one or both parents born in a country other than Spain (second generation). We also found that some of them do not identify themselves as "immigrants".

• Children born abroad but already nationalized as Spanish.

• Immigrant children who accompany their parents in temporary migration processes and are expected to stay in Spain for just a few months (a situation that occurs with some frequency in Huelva, due to the economic specialization in some municipalities based on the strawberry economy, where part of the workforce is involved in circular migration flows) (Comisión de las Comunidades Europeas, 2005).

Regardless of whether these children are characterized as first, first–and–a–half or second generation, or whether we prefer to refer to adolescents and young immigrants and children of immigrants, discussions that are beyond the scope of this article, there is an element of convergence that typically occurs with this group: the migrant experience that they or their families undergo and feel in their daily lives. But this experience can be lived and felt differently depending on the particular migration projects, expectations, life situations or contexts of origin and destination.

Wondering whether these children feel part of Spain or not, and what kind of factors contribute most to their sense of belonging, is an aspect of interest that is also related to the question of identity more subjectively. Identificative integration is usually linked to a sense of belonging to certain territories. At the political level this is important since it is linked to citizenship, which is crucial in the case of people of foreign origin wishing to acquire membership of the country.

The following pages explore, in a representative sample of immigrant children surveyed in Huelva, whether or not they feel they belong to the place where they reside. This issue is by no means trivial if we wish to focus on understanding the processes of social integration. The issue is particularly relevant due to the rising number of adolescents and young immigrants growing up in Spain and other countries. For this reason, the results we offer can provide an approach to the issue that goes beyond a particular province, contributing to certain experiences and ideas that can be useful in the field of public policy and other places where there is a rising number of adolescents and young people of foreign origin.


Immigrant Adolescents and Youth in Huelva:A Demographic Approach

The issue of second generation immigrants and the study of the situation of adolescents and young immigrants in Spain are not only a current topic, but a one that needs to be addressed in this country. In a short time, the country's situation here has changed dramatically. Whereas Spain was still a country of emigration in the sixties (Arango, 1999; Criado, 2001), its current high rate of immigration provides a different picture today. According to data from the Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration (Secretaría de Estado de Inmigración y Emigración, 2009) on September 30, 2009, there were 4 715 757 foreigners in Spain with valid residency permits. Of these, only 5.59 percent were born in Spain, while the rest were born between the country of their nationality (90.5 %), another continent (3.02 %) or other country on the same continent (0.74 %). From the set of about 5 million foreigners with residence permits in Spain, only 642 764 were between 0 and 15 years old (13.6 %). In the case of Huelva, also on September 30, 2009, 38 416 foreigners with residence permits were documented, of whom 3 655 were aged 0–15 years (9.5 %). These data indicate that the group of minors is not very large in relation to the wider adult immigrant population. According to the Municipal Population Register, where numbers are usually higher than for those with valid residence permits, in Huelva (in 2007, the year of our fieldwork), 3 312 children under 16 years were reported, a figure that had grown to 4 925 by 2009 (Instituto Estadístico de Andalucía, 2009).

Based on these data, in Spain, compared with other countries with a longer tradition of immigration, there are still few immigrants who were born here, and it is more common to see people belonging to a first4 or first–and–a–half generation of immigrants.5 Vital Statistics, specifically data on live births with a foreign parent, clearly show this. Thus whereas only 60 live births were documented in 1999, by 2007 725 live births with a foreign parent were registered in Huelva, the majority being from Morocco and Romania. These data reflect the process of constitution of a second generation of immigrants in Spain (Gualda, 2007).

On the other hand, regarding the immigrant children included in our sample, most were studying compulsory secondary education (educación secundaria obligatoria) while a small group were attending high school (baccalaureate), which is easily explained because the latter is a kind of pre–university course which is no longer compulsory in the country. To get a better idea of the situation according to statistics from the regional Government in Andalusia, Ministry of Education, in the 2006–2007 academic year in the province of Huelva 1 2576 students of this age, were enrolled in secondary education (eso, baccalaureate and other previous studies) which reached 1 953 in 2008–2009 (Consejería de Educación, 2007).


Integration, Identity and Sense of Belonging

Examining the degree of integration of adolescents and young immigrants is a complex issue, largely because of its multidimensional nature. The integration of immigrants goes through different stages and is developed in various spheres. As we argued in Gualda and Schramkowski (2007:4), although the list of dimensions in which integration occurs varies according to the author, there are a number of common features. These include functional and cultural integration (dominated by the need to navigate around the new society by learning the language, new rules, customs and values, etcetera) and structural integration (involving the participation of immigrants with the same rights as nationals in the host society's institutions—such as the labor market and the system education. Structural integration also refers to access to citizenship as the basis for political participation and the acquisition of civil rights, and includes elements related to power). Other features include social integration (incorporation into the host society through friends, partners and participation in groups or organizations, social class...); and identificative integration (which involves immigrants' sense of belonging to the host society). Integration in these spheres, which are interdependent and affected by how mainstream society behaves, does not usually run concurrently, and would involve, if the equalization of nationals and immigrants is to be achieved, participation at the same level, with the same rights and opportunities for immigrants in the host society.

The contribution of this paper is to analyze the situation of adolescents and young immigrants in Huelva, specifically regarding the integration processes associated with identificative integration. This analysis will focus on the sense of belonging to Spain of the immigrants interviewed. The issue is of great interest because there is not necessarily a correlation between living in a place and feeling identified with it. Sometimes the family influences many members of the second generation by making them feel more oriented toward their parents' country of origin than their country of birth or destination (Moreno, 2008). This highlights the interest in understanding and defining the factors that explain the sense of belonging to Spain for adolescent and young immigrants and immigrants' children.

Moreover, different researchers have been concerned with the study of the links between identity and sense of belonging, and stressed its complexity (Garland and Chakraborti, 2006; Mur–tuja, 2006; Tsolidis and Pollard, 2009; Lam and Smith, 2009). Sometimes researchers analyze the link between identity, belonging, cosmopolitanism and even citizenship (Moreno, 2008). Some papers such as Bhimji's (2008) emphasize that we are in a global era, in which it is more common to have a flexible and porous understanding of the idea of nation state, which declines as it undergoes various stages. In the age of computers, people can move easily between building memberships rooted in the state, and the personal way they give meanings to and reconfigure their membership of the places where they live.

Much has been written recently about the complexity involved in the study of social and cultural identities (Esser, 2009; Jackson, 2009; Ueno, 2009), its multifaceted nature and the consideration that identities change over time and cannot be seen as static, but as fluid and constructed within the context of specific situations. For example, the scientific literature says that the identities of immigrants' children are fluent in the sense that they do not necessarily have to master one identity over another, but are adapting and readapting themselves all the time, sometimes as a survival strategy (Bodenhausen, 2010; Cara, 2010; Jackson, 2009; Brettell and Nibbs, 2009; Vermeij, Van Duijn and Baerveldt, 2009).

Considerations regarding the construction of multiple, hybrid identities by immigrant children are rooted in the idea of their fluidity and porosity. Adolescents and youth are innovative at creating their own meanings of ethnic categories and national boundaries, behaving as active agents in the construction of identity (Cara, 2010; Brettell and Nibbs, 2009; Tsolidis and Pollard, 2009; Vermeij, Van Duijn and Baerveldt, 2009). This feature has recently been documented in various parts of the world. This is the case, for example, reported by Cara (2010), of the creation of Latvian–Russian identities, or Tsolidis and Pollard (2009) when they explain how children of Greek origin in Melbourne reinterpret and appropriate the pejorative and discriminatory term "wog", giving it value, to consciously combat its racist meaning.

Markers of identity and belonging can be related to the nation, citizenship, infra and supranational places7 through language (Butcher, 2008; Cara, 2010), religion, or even participation in and membership of social networks (Lubbers, Molina and McCarty, 2007). The way identity and sense of belonging are constructed is often connected with the ideas and cultural experiences shared with others.

The way in which identity and a sense of belonging are constructed in youth is also linked to other ideas and sociocultural experiences shared by peer groups. They can exert some influence on them by making them regard parents' traditions as strange and reinforcing their interest in remaining oriented to the destination country participation in religious celebrations sometimes with a mixture of recreational elements (as would be the case in our area of study of pilgrimages, processions and so on), to everything that is associated with greater freedom, independence and rights for women in democratic societies, compared with the prevalent patterns in the parents' country of origin (Bhimji, 2008).

In the case of language, argues Butcher (2008), this represents the tension between cultural continuity and change in different societies, and is used by young immigrants to move between belonging and identity, by drawing boundaries between generations and between inclusion and exclusion, hence the importance of mastering the language of the host society. The language of origin as heritage for the young can be also construed as a contributing factor to the dynamic process of identity construction. Language is then presented as a key to forming identity and differentiating themselves from others, to set boundaries between us and them, but it can also be crucial to reinforcing the fact that there are similarities with the local population (Cara, 2010).

Conversely, the context of discrimination in which some immigrants live may result in the strengthening of one's identity as a coping mechanism of denial or rejection experiences in the dynamic processes of identity construction. Reinforcement of ethnic pride may serve as a defensive strategy (Guilamo–Ramos, 2009; Lam and Smith, 2009). Chow (2007) documented that a strong sense of belonging to Canada among adolescents from Hong Kong involved several factors: the father's presence in Canada, a better self–assessment of their socioeconomic status, politically and culturally motivated immigration to Canada, positive experiences with making friends in Canada or the lack of previous experiences there. Other papers, such as the one by Lubbers, Molina and McCarty (2007), show that when there are more diverse social networks, there also tend to be more plural definitions of belonging.

Having raised these issues as part of the international debate, we examined the role these factors play in the fact that some adolescents and young people we interviewed in Huelva feel part of Spain. To this end, we took into account all the factors reflecting the different aspects of integration.



This article presents the results of research conducted in the province of Huelva (HIJAIStudy 2007)8 with fieldwork conducted in May and June 2007, and based on qualitative interviews, focus groups and the undertaking of a survey of a representative sample of 413 respondents of foreign origin, of both sexes, enrolled at 35 different educative centers and with a median age of 14. We interviewed over one third the immigrant children enrolled and registered in the province of Huelva ranging from 12 to 17 years old, according to the data provided by the Provincial Office of Education (Delegación Provincial de Huelva).

Regarding the survey that was conducted, which represents the majority of the contents presented in this article, in order to design the semi–structured questionnaire, in addition to classic aspects for a demographic description of the sample, pre–existing international studies on second–generation and adolescent and young immigrants was used as a reference. Here it is important to cite the longitudinal research directed by Alejandro Portes (CILS study).9 Additionally, in accordance with the interests of the research team, we contemplated elements of the European Social Survey (2010), and various scales characteristic of social network analysis (SNA). These include the Duke–UNC–11 scale (Bellón et al., 1996), Barrera's approach (1980), the work in Spain led by Pascual, Miguel and Solana (2007), our own experience as a research team in other work carried out in Huelva (Gualda, 2007), and others questions useful for the research, or suggested by the researchers,10 but in any case, the questionnaire was specifically designed by the researchers to meet their goals. Several questions taken from the works cited above were adapted and other specifically developed to include various aspects and issues that were to be tested in this and future studies.


Basic Features of Adolescents and Youth Immigrants in Huelva

Before presenting the findings on the sense of belonging to Spain it is essential to know about some of the traits of the sample of minors interviewed. We used data from the 2007 HIJAIStudy. The data in this study correspond to a set of persons of both sexes (52 % males), mostly aged 14 to 17 years and almost all single and childless, as one would expect, given their age. They were distributed throughout the areas of the province where there are a larger number of immigrants (capital, county, coast or agro–industrial area). The family background of adolescent and youth immigrants in Huelva is varied, since they are mainly drawn from recent members of the European Union (Romania in particular), Latin America (Colombia and Ecuador) and North Africa (Morocco). The country of birth of their ancestors (parents and grandparents) generally coincides with their own. The profile of the 413 respondents in 2007 also highlighted two things. On the one hand, they had a strong desire to acquire Spanish nationality (if they did not have already it) and, secondly, they were divided between those who have resided in Spain for a period of up to 2 years (47.8 %) and those who had lived in Spain for 2 to 10 years (49.2 %). A mere three percent could be classified as "second generation", since they were born in Spain. The majority of respondents, however, belonged to what is commonly known as the first–and–a half generation of immigrants due to their arrival at Spain at an early age.


Sense of Belonging to Spain and Determinants

Sense of Belonging to Spain

This section and the next one discusses several hierarchical multiple regressions that were used to determine some of the key factors explaining the sense of belonging to the Spanish society of adolescent immigrants living in Huelva. We see the self–assessment of belonging to Spain as a facet of integration for these children on a subjective level. It seems clear that achieving a strong sense of belonging to the country where they live is a key element in the integration and development of identities related to the latter. This may be relevant in the case of different generations of immigrants.

Thus, the following table shows what was reported by adolescents and young immigrants in Huelva in relation to whether or not they felt part of Spain. What emerges is a more pronounced sense of belonging among those born in Spain (the genuine "second generation"), and those that have lived in Spain for nine years or more, which is understandable. However, in the sample as a whole, whereas 52 percent said they felt more strongly part of the Spanish society (scoring between 7–10 on a scale of 0–10), 35.6 percent of immigrants reported an intermediate position (scoring 4–6 on the previous scale) while 12.2 percent reported having a very low sense of belonging to Spain.


Factors Explaining the Feelings of Belonging

To identify the factors that were most closely related to what we have called identificative integration, we first carried out a bivariate analysis, testing statistically significant relationships, to further deepen our knowledge of these relations through the implementation of various hierarchical multiple regressions.

A strong sense of belonging to Spanish society can be interpreted as the achievement of successful integration (at least subjectively) in the host society. This would be a deeper level of integration that goes beyond the functional or structural level, and may involve having established and consolidated social networking in the destination country, and adjusting to sociocultural practices and patterns (as in the case of the majority of the immigrants interviewed that adapt themselves to the host society and even participate in popular local practices such as El Rocío, pilgrimages, religious processions, carnivals, etc.). This issue is always more complex. The fact that an immigrant feels part of the host society does not necessarily mean that all members of the host society will accept him, as has been continuously shown through various surveys of attitudes towards immigrants that warn about rejection and xenophobia in Spain (Cea and Vallés, 2009).

The dependent variable, "Do you feel like part of Spanish society?" was originally measured on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 representing the highest degree of integration understood as a sense of belonging. The average response obtained on this scale was 6.6 points, which indicates that values from 7 to 10 points represent good integration or at least above the median integration of the population surveyed. As we have seen (see table 1) 52 percent of respondents expressed this view.

This average sense of belonging to Spain by immigrant adolescents and young people seems quite high, particularly since in many cases migration is fairly recent and most of the respondents belong to the first–and–a–half generation of immigrants who arrived in Spain under the age of 14. On the other hand, the young age at which they arrived, and their participation in the school context are two key factors which may be facilitating integration. However, this sense of belonging to Spain is less clear for at least half the sample.

The bivariate analysis of a broad set of variables that were examined allows an initial approach to the phenomenon by detecting the existence of significant associations between several variables included in the questionnaire regarding whether or not one feels part of Spanish society. Summarizing this analysis, it became clear that variables such as age, family status, year of arrival, language, perceptions of opportunities in Spain, and a set of measures associated with social relations established in Spain were significantly associated with feeling part of Spanish society. Other more general features included the degree of trust in others, the aim of staying or returning, identification patterns and feeling comfortable, happy or satisfied with life. Conversely, statistically significant relationships were not found for other variables, as happened with sex, place of residence in the province of Huelva, the immigrant generation, or the experiences and perceptions of rejection, discrimination or violence. This does not mean that these variables cannot be associated with other aspects of social integration.


Hierarchical Multiple Linear Regression and Explanatory Factors of the Sense of Belonging

Multiple linear regression is a mathematical method used to model the relationship between a dependent variable that must be explained, and one or more independent variables explored to determine whether they influence the dependent variable and to what extent. The multiple linear regression models used in this work are hierarchical, because the aim is to define the relationships between a number of independent variables and the dependent variable, while controlling for the influence that a set of demographic variables might have on that relationship. The predictor variables refer to various aspects of social integration. These are all metric, although some are the result of transforming a categorical variable into a dichotomous or polytomous dummy.

Our goal is to determine whether there are relationships between the predictor variables representing different theoretical aspects of social integration and the dependent, while controlling for sociodemographic factors. To this end, we use the "enter" method in Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), which gives the researcher greater control. To find a parsimonious model that highlights the variables that make a greater contribution to the explanation of a sense of belonging to Spanish society, a process of several stages was carried out after checking that the requirements of normality, linearity and homogeneity of variance were satisfied, and that the sample size and level of measurement of variables had been adapted to the requirements of the procedure.


Stages in the Development of Regression Models and Data

At an initial stage we calculated 13 hierarchical multiple regressions, as many as the predictors we wanted to see in their relationship with the dependent, always controlling for sex, age, place of origin and length of residence in Spain. All the predictors and even two of the control variables (age and length of residence in Spain) were statistically significant in their contribution to explaining variance in the sense of belonging to Spanish society. Table 2 summarizes some key indicators for each regression model applied to the predictors.

In the second phase, once we had determined the contribution of each variable to the explanation of the sense of belonging to Spain, we developed three additional hierarchical multiple regressions, following the same pattern with respect to control variables, but incorporating all the predictors together in order to determine their importance more accurately. In the first of these regressions we use the "enter" method in SPSS, and in the second the "stepwise" one, to test whether the results were similar. Because of their similarity, we only show the results obtained in the first case. In the third overall regression we selected the variables with the highest standardized coefficients (see table 3) of the different theoretical dimensions of integration.

During the third and last phase, SPSS was used to select a random sample of 50 percent of the cases in the sample and the final regression for the validation of the model was calculated. Tables 3 and 4 show the synthetic results of the second and third stages of calculating multiple regressions.



The results of the first phase calculating the regressions, considering the influence of each variable in explaining the dependent variable, show the difficulty of attempting to explain the sense of belonging to Spain of immigrant children in Huelva. All the variables considered contribute something to the percentage of variance explained, once the sociodemographic variables have been controlled for. This is clearly observed in the statistics of change in R square,11 whose F12 is always statistically significant. Hierarchical models are interesting in that they offer the possibility of assessing the change in the explained variance by permitting the evaluation of the contributions of each independent variable (or a set of them) after controlling for others. In our case, observing the changes in R2 revealed that the three variables that contributed most to the explanation were, in descending order, life satisfaction (11.7 %), interpersonal trust (9.7 %) and the index of participation in Spanish celebrations (8.7 %). The rest of the variables accounted for between 1 and 4.6 percent. This suggests that all the variables must be taken into account in some way, although some of them will be more important. All the models used are also statistically significant under Anova (significance of F). The standardized coefficients beta13 are statistically significant according to t, and reiterate this idea of the multidimensionality of the phenomenon we are studying, because the contributions of different variables are sometimes relatively similar.

In the second phase we incorporated all the previous independent variables and performed two regressions with all of them, always controlling for the sociodemographic variables. In one regression we used the "enter" method and in the other the "step wise" method. The first one selects the best variables automatically. Since results of both regressions are very similar, we showed only the first one. The overall percentage of variance explained in the model with all the variables is 33.3 percent (R2 corrected) while the predictors provide a change in the R2 of 26 percent. The data provided by a third model calculated, where only the variables that produced the greatest change in the R2 were included in the third phase these results were validated using a random sample of 50 percent of cases (see table 4). All the models were statistically significant.

Focusing now on the variables whose standardized beta coefficients were significant and greater in the models shown in table 5, four of them proved to be consistently important as explanatory factors of a sense of belonging. They were the rate of structural opportunities perceived, overall life satisfaction, interpersonal trust and territorial identification. The coefficients were positive in the first three cases, meaning that, according to our data, those who perceive that they have equal or better chances than the Spanish to find work, purchase a home or go to college have a greater sense of belonging to Spanish society, as happens with those with higher levels of satisfaction with life and interpersonal trust in the Spanish people. In the fourth case, territorial identification, it was con–verted into a dummy variable and the last models were calculated with the dichotomous variable for "origin" (representing those minors who reported being more oriented in their identities towards their place of origin than their "destination" or the "world". As we expected, the beta coefficient here is negative, showing that only identifying with the place of paternal origin (country, region or town of residence) has a negative association with the sense of being part of Spanish society. The opposite happened when the regression was modeled by incorporating the "destination" and "world" dummies, which scored positively according to a greater sense of belonging to Spain.14

The contributions of other variables were also significant when performing the final validation regression and the regression that only includes the variables with the greatest change in R2 for modeling. Thus, when Spanish is among the language(s) in which the interviewees would educate their children (whether in a monolingual or a bilingual context), there is also a higher sense of belonging to Spain. The same is true of those who obtained a higher score as regards participation in Spanish social celebrations. Conversely, when analyzing all the variables that are significant in the partial regressions, the number of Spanish friends appears to have no such direct link with the subjective feelings of belonging, and the data may be pointing towards the fact that friends contribute at an initial stage, by facilitating things such as strengthening language skills or opportunities for relationships and social participation, reinforcing trust and life satisfaction, which contributes more directly to the feeling of being part of Spanish society. This aspect should be explored in greater depth in further studies. Some preliminary analyses we have conducted on the data show that more than the actual amount of friends, which could affect the sense of belonging more, is what you share with them, as borne out by the case of participation in common activities or events.


Discussion, Conclusions and New Routes to Explore

Just as other researchers have documented the links between the sense of belonging and social integration processes (Garland and Chakraborti, 2006; Murtuja, 2006, among others), this work also concludes, in light of the data presented, that this link can be found among adolescents and young immigrants and immigrants' children in Huelva. The factors that have been found to be most closely related to having a sense of belonging to Spain are precisely the elements that represent the various spheres of integration.

Within the sphere of social integration, having more of a sense of belonging to Spain was largely due to participating in activities or Spanish celebrations and trusting in Spanish people. As for functional or linguistic integration, the greatest feeling of membership was found when Spanish was cited among the languages (when more than one was reported) in which they would educate their future children. Structural integration appeared to be linked to a greater sense of belonging among those who perceived that they had the same or better opportunities than the Spanish as regards access to employment, college or housing. Major identificative integration into places in Spain or in the world appeared to be positively associated with greater feelings of belonging, while the reverse was true when they were origin–oriented. Overall life satisfaction was tied to the sense of belonging to the country.

The recent international literature has shown the importance of having good friends at school, especially if they provide support, acting as social capital, an aspect that can mediate school integration and academic success or achievement, as well as children's commitment, involvement and attachment to schools (Suárez–Orozco, Rhodes and Milburn, 2009). Articles such as those by Sassenberg and Matschke (2010) and Bodenhausen (2010) show that exchange and social relationships seem to intercede in some way in the construction of identity. Self–conception is used to interact, and in adolescents and young people is tested on the peer group, thereby strengthening or weakening self–esteem, meaning that it is crucial to have friends nearby with whom one can participate in social life.

Another issue is the specific importance of the fact that one's friends are essentially national, co–ethnic, from third countries or of mixed origin. The discussion here would focus, for example, on areas such as the importance of daily contact and interaction among people belonging to ethnic minorities in the construction of identity and integration. Here macro factors such as the political and social importance of minorities in the country where the child resides, or the presence of ethnicity in the public and private discussions and decision making (essential in countries such as the United States) may come into play. The demographic importance of non–nationals specifically, those from a particular country, may also be central to the way in which social interactions are shaped. These elements, combined in different ways, may contribute to various processes that develop identity and social integration.

In this paper we have focused on the sense of belonging to Spain. It is hardly surprising, then, that being involved with Spaniards, or experiencing a high level of trust of the latter helps explain this sense of belonging to Spain. Future studies should examine whether the sense of belonging to Spain is produced in the same way in immigrants who virtually only interact with co–ethnics, or who include non–nationals among their friends. In fact, when the interviewees declared their identity, it emerged that a sense of belonging to Spain was reported by those who identified with this country and by children who declared multiple identities. And it might be of interest to analyze what differences—if any—, can be found among people from different places.

These data seem to suggest, in parallel to what Goza and Ryabov (2009) and Ueno (2009) have noted, that having friendly relations with co–ethnic peers at school should not be viewed with alarm (or be thought to slow down educational progress or lead to gang membership, etc.). On the contrary, these networks can be used for the transmission and reinforcement of success–oriented values, as well as providing other types of assistance such as affective support.

Our results appear to show that a retreat to the exclusively ethnic or to the origin (in terms of statements of identity, language and everyday social practices of adolescents and youth), is associated with a lack of a sense of belonging to the place where they reside, while those who have been incorporated into Spanish life, or even transnational lives which include third countries, make compatible multiple identities with a sense of belonging to the place where they live, which may positively affect integration. In this regard, although subsequent works should examine these issues further, the links between identity, belonging and social integration would seem obvious.

One aspect of interest is, for example, to determine the scope that an identificative retreat to ethnic origin which provides large doses of "ethnic pride" can have on a society like Spain, which is not currently as socially, politically or culturally ethnified as others where the beneficial and protective effects of ethnic reinforcement have been shown (Guilamo–Ramos, 2009; Lam and Smith, 2009). Do minors respond in the same way in a context of assimilation or pluralism as they do when intercultural policies and education programs are launched by the State (as happened in the Andalusian region)? How do macro contexts oriented toward multiculturalism affect the sense of belonging?

In fact, in the case of both adolescents and the young who identify with and feel a sense of belonging to Spain, and multiplyidentified children with a similar sense of belonging: identificative integration oriented towards Spanish society is a reflection of a major reconstruction of identity from the sociocultural parameters of their country of origin. It would be useful to continue researching this issue, especially when it may also appear to be linked to social integration in other areas such as education and employment.

The hybridization of identities and their fluidity are aspects that refer to the complexity inherent in the study of the sense of belonging, in which ethnic aspects such as language, social networks and identification interact. All these elements, together with the context and situations in which these interactions are produced (neighborhood, school, etc.), affect immigrants' integration (Esser, 2009; Jackson, 2009; Ueno, 2009). Aspects such as bilingualism, the existence of ethnically mixed social networks and hybrid identification not appear to be negative for integration (Esser, 2009). What does seem crucial is how the processes of the past, their memories and the baggage from past experiences, are linked to the construction of identities and the development of a sense of belonging. The migratory experience is important, because of the marks it leaves, which are different in each individual, as described by Trew (2009).

The need to consider both macro and micro social issues in the study of the link between integration, identity and sense of belonging, highlighted in this research, also involves a learning process for the intervention. Processes of identity and belonging can not be interpreted in the same way in different social contexts. At the same time, insofar as the results suggest that the paths for identificative integration can be approached from different fronts and strategies, they open up a wide range of opportunities.



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1 This article is based on data drawn from the project on "Second Generation of Immigrants in Huelva" (Ref. 2006/176), financed by the regional Ministry of Interior, General Directorate for the Coordination of Migratory Policies, Andalusian Government (Consejería de Gobernación, Dirección General de Coordinación de Políticas Migratorias, Junta de Andalucía). We gratefully acknowledge this support, as well as the suggestions received from the anonymous referees of this article.

2 I refer throughout the text to minors, in the legal sense of underage, which includes adolescents and youth. In Spain children are legally minors until the age of eighteen years old, although they can legally work at the age of sixteen. At this point, some adolescents leave the education system.

3 This refers to the geographical defi nition of the term "immigration", based on a change in the place of residence.

4 Those who emigrated to a different country from their country of birth. Born abroad (for some authors this includes those who arrived at approximately 12–14 years old—and older—in the destination country).

5 They were born in their parents country of origin. For some authors this includes those who arrived at under 12–14 years old in the destination country.

6 Intermediate and higher vocational training (ciclo formativo de grado medio [CFGM]; ciclo formativo de grado superior [CFGS]); social guarantee programmes (programas de garantía social [PGS]); initial vocational training programs (programas de cualificación profesional inicial [PCPI]); adult secondary education (educación secundaria de adultos [ESA]); special education (educación especial [EE]).

7 This happens because nation–states sometimes do not provide a suitable framework for belonging.

8 Adolescents and Young Immigrants and Children of Immigrants (Gualda, 2010).

9 We gratefully acknowledge the questionnaires which Alejandro Portes allowed us to use at different stages in the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS).

10 Estrella Gualda Caballero, Bárbara Schramkowski, Juan Manuel Gualda Caballero, Pilar Blanco Miguel, Andrea Capilla Pérez, Blanca González Cerezo, Benita Domínguez Gómez, Nidia G. Mora Quiñones, Marta Hernández Palomo, Iván Rodríguez Pascual and María Josefa Vázquez Librero.

11 The R2 is the coefficient of determination. The corrected R2, also in the tables (R square adjusted), is calculated having into account the number of variables entered in the model of regression. Its value can be expressed as the percentage of variation in the dependent which is explained by the model of regression. It gives a global view as summary of the model.

12 F tests if the contributions of the predictors introduced in a second moment—because in a first step are entered the control sociodemographic variables—represent a significative change in the predictive power of the equation of regression. For this to happen, its value must be less than 0.05.

13 These coefficients delimit the influence of each variable on the dependent. A regression model can be explanatory, though not neccesarialy all the variables included for the calculations. If the t value is less than .05 it means a significant contribution of that variable.

14The variable "territorial identification" had four categories: identification towards "origin", "destination", "world", and "no territorial identification". For the regressions we constructed several dummy variables, dychotomous that were incorporated in several combinations in the elaboration of models. The variable "no identification" never contributed in a significant way, as we expected, due to the small number of responses here. Almost everybody answered one or more places with which they were identified. The behavior of the rest of variables was always the same: an orientation towards the origin (with national, regional, provintial or local identities) and the orientation toward the world (towards more than two countries, including normally the origin and the destination ones) were always positively associated with the belonging to Spain, meanwhile the orientation toward the destination, had a negative association with the belonging (through the beta coefficients). In the models, the incorporation of the variables "origin" and "destination" gave greater multicolineality (as was expected), and this is why they were included separately. In the tables we show the better results for the regression, though with the exception of the positive or negative orientation, they were similar.


Information about author

ESTRELLA GUALDA CABALLERO es doctora en sociología por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid y profesora de esta materia en la Universidad de Huelva, donde dirige el grupo de investigación Estudios Sociales e Intervención Social y el programa de doctorado Globalización y Cambio Social: Desigualdades, Fronteras y Redes Sociales. Ha coordinado numerosos proyectos de investigación y diversos libros, entre ellos, La segunda generación de inmigran tes en Huelva. EstudioHIJAI (Diálogos–Red, 2010), capítulos de libros y artículos científicos en el ámbito de la sociología, las migraciones y las redes sociales.

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