An unbalanced and challenged pace of integration: the experiences of second-generation Afghans in Iran

Hossein Mahmoudian, University of Tehran
Mohammad J. Abbasi-Shavazi , University of Tehran
Gholamreza Jamshidiha, University of Tehran
Diana Glazebrook, Australian National University
Rasoul Sadeghi, University of Tehran

In 2005, a little over one million documented Afghans remained in Iran, of whom 33.4 per cent were second generation. They comprise a particular demographic whose experiences and aspirations while not homogenous within that demographic, are different from their parents, and from their counterparts in Afghanistan. The magnitude of such population and their critical situation are worth for consideration. Using survey data on Afghans in 1995 and qualitative data (in-depth interviews and focus group discussions) on integration, identity and repatriation of second-generation Afghans in Mashhad, Tehran and Isfahan in 2006, this paper aims to explored the integration of the second generation into the host society. Educational attainment, through learning certain dispositions (sociality, moderateness, gender equity, national thinking), having better occupations, and having more positive interaction with Iranians, is positively correlated with integration. The effect of education on integration, however, is more for those who educated from Iranian schools. Second-generation's concentration in low status occupations has weakened their labor force integration. A majority of respondents perceived Afghanistan as homeland and almost half of them wanted to be buried in Afghanistan. Additionally, a very high number of married respondents have married a relative, reflecting the persistence of Afghan custom and influence of parents on the second generation. The pace of second-generation Afghans' integration into Iranian society was not so smooth and straightforward. Afghans' improvement in education and consequently ideal and, to somehow, cultural integration into the host society were relatively high while their situation in terms of occupation, for example, did not show considerable attachment to the host society. This unbalanced adaptation to the majority is mainly due to their characteristics, the host society's policy and attitudes toward them, the overall situation in Afghanistan, and socio-cultural differences between Iranians and Afghans. This has considerable policy implications for the home and host societies.

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Presented in Poster Session 2