The Second Generation in Switzerland in Times of Crises: Biographies Between Meritocratic Promise and Experiences of Inequality and Insecurity

Author(s) : Eva Mey, Garabet Gül, Miryam Eser Davolio, Milena Gehrig, Isabelle Steiner

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« This chapter focuses on a cohort of immigrant children and their transition into adulthood. The studied children were born in Switzerland between 1990 and 1991 and have a working-class background. The data on which the analyses are based is derived from a qualitative longitudinal study. The authors elaborate on how the economic crisis of 2008/2009 and its economic, political, and social consequences are reflected in and have distinctively shaped the biographies of these so-called second-generation immigrants – who grew up in “rich” Switzerland as children of parents from the “poor” south. The accounts draw a picture of a contradictory constellation between meritocratic promises on the one hand and unequal opportunities, as well as experiences of stigmatization and discrimination, on the other hand. In addition, the youth were exposed to policies and discourses on immigration that have become increasingly harsher and thus have increased the experienced feelings of insecurity as politically, symbolically, and/or economically marginalized individuals in Switzerland. At the same time, the contrast in terms of prosperity and security between the country of origin and the host country – further strengthened by the latest economic and political developments – presents a binational comparative perspective that enables and favors the positive interpretation of life in Switzerland. »

Keywords :Children, Youth, Crises, Migration, Switzerland, Insecurity, Meritocracy, Inequality 


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