Acculturation – mediated parental aspirations of Indian immigrants in Singapore

2017-02-22T23:44:00Z (GMT) by Kusurkar, Archana Vijaykumar
Singapore is a country dependent on professional and skilled immigrants to sustain its growing economy. To add to its economic challenges, Singapore's population is ageing and birth rate declining. Though Singapore is able to attract professional immigrants, it becomes important to ensure that they are retained too, especially in their next generation. In light of this scenario, this study investigates the educational and occupational aspirations of the first generation Indian immigrants in Singapore for their children studying at the pre-university level. It also examines the factors influencing these aspirations and the role of their acculturation process in shaping these aspirations. The study is mainly qualitative in nature and employs the case study approach. Each case comprises of the first generation Indian immigrant parents’ pair whose children are studying at the pre-university level in Singapore. A postal questionnaire was administered to gather the background information of the parents and the children in order to recruit suitable participants for the subsequent qualitative phase. Twelve parents’ pairs were selected as the twelve cases. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with both the parents and group interviews with the children. The parents had high aspirations for their children’s educational and occupational achievements. Their emphasis was on quality education, academic excellence, professional success and financial security. Parents expected their children to match their level of educational and occupational achievements. They also wished to see inter-generation occupation mobility. Parents’ aspirations were influenced by factors at the individual, familial and societal level. At the individual level, it was their desire to enhance their children’s educational opportunities, personal values and perception of affordability of educational expenses. At the familial level their parents and children were found to be influential. Their parents’ role was seen through the family culture they were brought up into and their childhood experiences. Their children’s role was influential through the gender and the self-identity of the child. Also, the role of the birth order of the child stood out as parents’ experiences with their older child, expectations with the older child and the level of success the older child had achieved shaped parents’ aspirations for their younger child. At the societal level, the living environment of India and Singapore played a significant role in shaping their aspirations. In particular, it was the socio-cultural, physical, legal, economic and educational environments of both countries. Institutional discrimination too had a role in shaping parents’ aspirations as preference was given to Singaporeans in educational and occupational opportunities. The role of acculturation was evidently seen in shaping parents’ aspirations for their children. When parents migrated, they brought along their personal characteristics and experiences with them. In Singapore, parents were exposed to a new environment which was different from that in India, in many ways. Some of their characteristics underwent a change in the new environment while others remained intact depending on their acculturation strategy which was observed to be integration or separation. The influence of this acculturation process was seen on their parents’ aspirations for their children.