Master Marianne Takvam Kindt
Beyond heritage and acculturation. Accounts of upbringing, choices, and plans from children of immigrants in prestigious higher education in Norway.
Based on interview data with 28 children of immigrants enrolled in prestigious educational tracks, this thesis is an investigation of how they account for, and interpret the passage from their immigrant minority background upbringing through elite higher education and into the adult life of career and family formation in contemporary Norwegian society.
The results are presented in three empirical research articles. In the first article, I ask how these children of immigrants have experienced their parents’ involvement throughout their childhood. I find that most of the interviewees, although perceived as hailing from a low socioeconomic background, have parents with what they understand as high status from their country of origin. Further, I find that they experience their parents’ involvement in ways similar of what other scholars have denoted middle-class behavior.
In the second article, I ask how the interviewees account for having chosen prestigious fields of higher education. By applying a narrative approach, the analysis shows how they draw on stories of individuality and independence. I argue that these narratives might remedy a stigma that impedes their acceptance by the majority population: that these successful children of immigrants have made the right choice but not necessarily for the right reasons.
In the third article, I ask about the women’s plans regarding their future marriage, family and work, and what role their parents play in these plans. While they intend to apply their prestigious educational credentials in elite occupations, they also want to enter a within-group, parent-aided marriage. I analyze the narrative ways in which these women make sense of the tensions between wanting to be independent and feeling obligations toward their parents.
In sum, the thesis provides an account of how these resourceful young adults negotiate and make sense of significant life events, and a glimpse of the premises for inclusion in Norway. Insofar their lives and life choices are believed to suffer from deviant cultural practices, prestigious educational credentials do not appear to be sufficient as a remedy for feeling as an outsider. In the end, the manner in which they narrate their way through central events in their life course, beyond both cultural heritage and demands for acculturation, helps resolve this situation.