Social capital and integration of immigrants: a case of young Ghanaian immigrants in England

Ayeh-Danquah Koomson, Millicent (2021) Social capital and integration of immigrants: a case of young Ghanaian immigrants in England. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The total Ghanaian population in the United Kingdom (UK) is estimated at approximately 113,000 (Office of National Statistics UK, 2019) with approximately 11% being young people between the ages 16 to 24 (IPPR UK, 2007). Ghana remains one of UK‟s highest immigrant group and Ghanaian travel to the UK dates back to the 1960s initially to further their education and later to seek greener pastures due to the harsh economic conditions in Ghana at the time (Anarfi and Kwankye 2003, Bump 2006). It is through such journeys that remittances from immigrants remain the fourth economic booster for Ghana after cocoa, minerals and oil. While abroad, Ghanaian parents and their young people have connected with family members, friends, neighbours and community in many ways to improve their integration (Bump, 2006). This thesis therefore investigates the ways in which social capital affects the integration of young Ghanaian immigrants in England.

The study is in response to calls for research into the structural and relational linkages of social capital to integration of immigrants. To a large extent, existing research on social capital and integration have focused solely on adults and parents and thereby blurred the views and experiences of the younger generation (Morrow, 2004). Evidence of research about the experiences of young Ghanaian immigrants in England is scanty and this research seeks to fill some of this gap in knowledge. In addition, most of the studies on social capital are skewed towards immigrants from developed nations with limited research on those from developing nations, especially young Ghanaian immigrants. This is the reason for the researcher‟s interest in carrying out this research in order to provide a much needed focus on a neglected area and add to the knowledge of conducting interpretive research, the emphasis placed on exploring situations through the eyes of participants with the researcher acting as an instrument of interpretation (Cohen et al, 2000).

Given this background, this thesis adopts a qualitative strategy using an ethnographic research design that allows for thick rich description of views and experiences of respondents rendering social behaviour comprehensible. Field studies were conducted in two research sites in London North and South in 2018/19 with primary data consisting interviews and observations at the research sites. The total sample was 25 made of 15 young immigrants, 5 parents and 5 religious leaders drawn across the two research sites in England. The sample was composed of three groups of young Ghanaian immigrants: those who were born in England, those who were born in Ghana and migrated to England to join parents at a later age, and those who were born in the Diaspora and traveled to England on the ticket of the EU free movement policy. The data was analysed in two parts; first through a six-case study to answer the first research objective. The case studies also raised important issues that became central to analysing the second part through a thematic process.

The study established that bonding and bridging social capital are important sources of social support for young Ghanaian immigrants in England with family members and close friends, contact with neighbours, community and other social networks regarded as the most important sources of social capital to link with. They also serve as links to education, employment, language acquisition and religion and facilitate young immigrants‟ integration. Analysis of bonding and bridging dimensions of social capital on integration also revealed three significant themes: sociability, employability and religion, without which immigrants‟ integration will be difficult. Based on these findings, the study concludes that social capital is a key source of social support and network for immigrants to integrate and live in England; helping them to thrive in the host nation or new place, England. The study concludes that friends, family and community provide an important pillar for young Ghanaian immigrants‟ integration in England and offer insights into reexamining the integration policy on immigrants in UK; providing suggestions for improving policy on immigrant integration.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0708 Social capital
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonisation. Emigration and immigration. International migration > JV6001 Emigration and immigration. International migration > JV8790 Africa
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2021 14:29
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2021 14:29

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