The Second Generation Iranians: Questions and Concerns

Ali Akbar Mahdi Department of Sociology/Anthropology
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, Ohio 43015


Sociological studies of immigrant populations indicate that the first generation's pattern of adaptation is quite different from that of the second and third. Loyalty to the home culture and values remains a necessity for many immigrants in a new environment. However, while the first generation immigrants make every effort to maintain the native language and culture, the second generation's efforts in learning parental language and culture are very limited and half-hearted. The third generation's efforts in this regard are very minimal and symbolic. By fourth generation, little of a grandparent's cultural heritage can be found (Lieberson, et. al. 1975; Alba, 1985; Sowell, 1981). The pattern of adaptation by the Iranians in the United States seems to be more close to the rule than to the exception. Given the Iranian emphasis on Persian culture and traditions, what kind of patterns of cultural loyalty and linguistic maintenance can we expect from children of recent Iranian immigrants? What kind of problems, anxieties, and concerns do these second generation Iranians face in developing a bi-cultural identity? To what extent are the second generation Iranians responding to their parental expectations for maintaining their national heritage? Are the Iranian community's concerns for the preservation of its traditional cultural values and behaviors among their children realistic? This paper attempts to raise a series of questions about the above issues, connecting them to the concerns of the Iranian community about members of the second generation. This paper is neither a systematic study of the second generation nor a cohesive theoretical formulation of identity formation among the second generation. It intends to delineate issues relevant to a systematic study of the second generation Iranians. More specifically, it is a reflection on the issues of concern for a specific study of the cultural, linguistic, and religious identities of second generation Iranians in this country that I am currently undertaking. That study involves a survey of the second as well as one and a half generation Iranians of ages 12 to 32 in the United States. A questionnaire with 50 questions has been distributed among subjects. The collection of data for this study is planned to be completed by February 1997. Results will be presented in a subsequent paper.

The Question of Community:

Many Iranians in the United States like to think of themselves as a collectivity, better yet as a national collectivity. This is not hard to understand because Iranians come from a rich and strong culture in which the love of the mother land is seen as a moral requirement. The Iranian culture, however we define it, is emotionally binding and the Iranian society, again in whatever form and shape we define it, is very nationalistic. Once out of their country, Iranians, like ethnic groups in similar situations, attempt to use their cultural heritage as an anchorage against increasing pressures of the host society for assimilation. However, the record of the Iranian immigrants in developing a sense of national identity and collectivity is mixed. The desired sense of community has not fully developed yet, though efforts in bringing about such a community are being made. While the Iranian immigrants often express a strong desire for preservation of their cultural heritage, they show no significant resistance to the forces of assimilation to the host society. Their strong desire for a community does not fully match the realities of their presence in the United States. First, while there is a sizable population of Iranians living in several metropolitan cities, the vast majority of this population is scattered around the United States. Though it is not necessary for a collectivity to share a territory within the host society in order to demonstrate its collective will, it is undeniable that residential diffusion of a population reduces the intensity of social interaction and weakens the sense of collectivity. As studies have shown (Portes and Schauffler, 1996: 12), immigrant children who live in predominantly English speaking communities of dominant groups lose their native language much faster than those immigrant children who reside in areas where there is a large contingent of their co-nationals. Second, for a group to be called a national collectivity, it has to have, among other things, a collective identity. Collective identity, and collective consciousness as its necessary component, will not emerge unless the members of the group develop a sense of community, interact with each other on a fairly systematic basis, relate to one another both cognitively and emotionally, seek and help each other in times of crisis, and congregate on special occasions for cultural and social practices. For these things to happen, more than individual and collective wishes are needed. The group has to develop institutional mechanisms for relating to its members, demonstrating, reinforcing, and reproducing its cultural and national values and practices, and generating resources and support for its activities. While there are many Iranian micro-communities around the United States, especially the largest one in California, it is still too early to speak of the Iranian community in the U.S. as a national phenomenon. The macro-community of Iranians is still in the early stages of development. Yes, there are non-territorial communities of Iranians which have established local dailies, national magazines, radio and TV stations, and electronic communications. But the community has not been able to develop sustainable national institutions with goals and objectives of reaching the majority of the Iranians. Third, for a collectivity to have a particular identity, it needs to have some cultural assets in the form of symbols, values, practices, and objects. Though the Iranian culture is very rich in terms of these assets, it is not very clear yet how much of this cultural capital is transferred to the Iranian second generation in the context of the host society. The first generation Iranian immigrants have been working very hard to meet the challenges facing any newcomer to a host society. Census data indicate that the Iranians have been successful in meeting the socio-economic challenges facing an immigrant population in initial contact and subsequent stage of settlement. It also has become abundantly clear that Iranian immigrants in the United States have passed the transitional stage of their stay in this country and are experiencing the challenges and demands of integration to the host society. However, it is not very clear to what extent the Iranians have been able to transfer their cultural heritage to their children and if they do, what aspects of that culture are being transferred. A study of the second generation Iranians with a clear goal of identifying their loyalty to and retention of various attitudinal, behavioral, and symbolic elements of their parental culture should be able to detect such a transfer.

The Question of Identity:

For the members of the second generation, the question of identity is not as easily settled as it is for their parents. Their parents claim they are Iranians because they were born and raised in Iran, were active members of the Iranian society for decades or years, might still have immediate family members in Iran, have left much of their memories and histories in that society, think and act Iranian, relate to the Iranian culture more than to the American culture, and still hope to go back to that society someday. How many of these conditions apply to the second generation Iranians? Except for one and a half generation who are born in Iran and are partially familiar with Persian language and the Iranian culture, what else do these young people do that make them an Iranian? Do they think like an Iranian? Do they act like Iranians? Ultimately, it is their behavioral and attitudinal characters that determine their identity as Iranian or American, not having an Iranian passport or eating Persian food. It is the cognitive and emotive identification with the Iranian culture and society that really determines whether these youths regard themselves as Iranian, Iranian-American, or American. The scholarship dealing with the question of identity of children of Iranian immigrants should determine what it is that makes these youth Iranians rather than Americans. Is it their being born to an Iranian parent? Their ability to speak Persian? The degree to which they derive their values from the Iranian culture? The amount of Persian food they eat? The fact that they are identifying themselves as Moslem? These questions are serious and the kind of answers we find for them have consequential effect for the type of research we can do and the kind of issues we have to deal with. An urgent question regarding the second generation is whether they have remained loyal to their parental culture, language, religion, and traditions. If they have not, why and how? If they are, then why and what kind of assimilation pattern are they following? Are the Iranians following a linear pattern of assimilation, very much like the early Europeans, or a non-linear, like African Americans and Hispanics? It seems that while the Iranian integration into the American society is generally unblocked, their experiences are strained by the ill effects of hostilities that emerged between the governments of the United States and Iran after 1980. Generally skilled and educated, Iranians have had a relatively positive experience with the American labor market, educational system, and political structure. In the social realm, however, it has been very difficult for Iranians to overcome stereotypes and negative attitudes about their native country; its peoples and religion. Experiences of prejudice and discrimination, especially at the social level, have been very detrimental to the lives of those who have encountered them. Furthermore, the second generation Iranians are faced by challenges which are partially generic to the experience of being a second generation and partially unique to them because they are born into an Iranian family. We need to develop a better sense of the national and cultural identity of this generation. Within the home environment of the native country it is not difficult for the children to identify with images and roles provided by parental culture. However, in an environment where the cultural values of parents are rarely practiced or hardly even acknowledged, it is harder for children to adopt parental cultural values and patterns. It appears that the second generation Iranians, raised by one or two Iranian parents, living in the midst of Americans in urban environments, going to schools with predominantly white middle class Americans, increasingly adopting the American lifestyle and cultural norms, are developing a unique identity quite different to that of their parents. What is this identity and how it is formed have not been studied. We need to begin to ask questions about this identity because the way this young generation defines itself influences its experience of assimilation and its future in this country. How do these youth perceive themselves? As Iranians? Iranian-Americans? Americans? Many of them are born here and have never seen Iran. Many others have a very vague notion of Iran and the Iranian culture from their early childhood when they lived in Iran. Still many others know no more Iranians than the number of their fingers on their hands. The process of forming an identity is not a unilinear one. It takes a variety of forms and directions, at times even contradictory ones, and passes through numerous stages. For Iranian youths, the process has added difficulties and challenges due to the very nature of the culture and society from which their parents come. In securing an identity for themselves, the Iranian second generation has to confront several problems. In the following, I will outline some of these challenges that Iranian youth have to face in forming their identity in the United States:

1. Since the Iranian revolution, especially the taking of the American Embassy by the Iranian militants in 1980, images of the Iranians as terrorists, fanatics, anti-Americans, unpredictable, wild, and so on have come to dominate the minds of the American public. Although living in an environment with so much negativity is a difficult choice for most of first generation Iranian immigrants, it still is a conscious choice. For second generation Iranians, there is no choice. As children of Iranian parents, they have to shoulder the weight of negative images associated with the nationality of their parents. These negative images and the accompanying discrimination and prejudices act as stigmas according to which the Iranian immigrants are viewed in this society. For Iranian youth, then, the process of identity formation is wrought with a great deal of difficulty in confronting these images. We are really neither aware nor sure of the extent of harm caused by these images and stereotypes. Future studies are needed to explore the effect of stereotypes and prejudices against people of Middle Eastern origin on young Iranians who grow up in this country.

2. A second area of concern for the identity formation of the Iranian youths is the direct or indirect effects of contradictions experienced by their parents. As educated individuals, many of these parents are still struggling with the weight of their own cultural traditions and values. For the Iranians who have left their country, the experience of these conflicts are compounded by new contradictions and problems. These immigrants still continue to experience the contradictions arising from the struggle between modernity and tradition, religion and the state, and the individual and society -- contradictions affecting their culture and society at home. These contradictions affect the way in which they raise their kids in this country, thus influencing their identity. For example, the experience of the Iranian revolution has made many Iranians hostile, suspicious or indifferent toward religion. In fact, the presence of many Iranian immigrants in the Western countries is partially due to the religionization of the Iranian society. Most of the Iranian immigrants are secular individuals who do not wish to mix religion with politics and education. This obviously has an impact on the immigrant youths. A trip to most of mosques around the United States reveals that Iranians generally do not frequent them. However, though not practicing, this population still regards itself as Moslem and uses Islam as a shield against the encroachment of the dominant religions of the host society. Therefore, many Iranian immigrants have chosen not to deal with religious education of their children and are oblivious to the religious calendar of events and practices. In the absence of a clear direction from their parents, the Iranian second generation is left to guess their parental religious orientation and develop their own notion of what s/he is supposed to look like as a Moslem. Are the first generation Iranians confused about their attitude toward religion? Given lack of any evidence for substantial conversion to atheism, one is left to guess what type and aspects of Islam these parents adhere to. How do these parents deal with their children's curiosity about religion? In the absence of a clear effort for religious education by their parents, how do the Iranian youths manage to deal with the religious concerns put to them by the host society? Do the Iranian parents care about transferring their religious heritage to their children? How problematic is that heritage for them and to what extent will it be a problem for their children?

3. Related to previous problems is the contradictions between two cultures. Though familiar and comfortable with most of the material aspects of modern life in the West, many Iranians are uncomfortable with some of the values and traditions of their adopted country. The first generation Iranians will continue to maintain a great deal of their cultural values and practices in all areas of their life. The second generation Iranians are inevitably touched, influenced, and sometimes even framed by these values and traditions. However, some of these values and practices are certainly diametrically opposed to those of the American society and are not easily acceptable to the second generation. Anecdotal evidence indicates that quite a number of Iranian parents have left this country because of their anxieties in raising their daughters in a culture with permissive sexual attitudes. Similar concerns are raised with regard to widespread use of alcohol and narcotics in American schools. These concerns have serious consequences for the growth and development of the personality of Iranian youth in American society. How do Iranian parents juggle these cultural norms? How do the youth resolve the different and sometimes contradictory demands made on them by cultures of their parents and the host society? Some second generation youth are torn between trying to be what their parents want them to be and what the American society wants them to be. For some, these choices involve betrayal and ostracism and a happy medium is hard, if not impossible, to achieve.

4. Most Iranian immigrants, even those who have adopted the American citizenship, continue to carry an Iranian passport and record their marriages and birth of their children with the Iranian government. Though such practices are a matter of convenience and many of these Iranians do not anticipate their children to go to Iran for living, they continue to view their children as Iranians. How Iranian are these children? What makes them Iranians for these parents? How does the second generation define its identity with regard to parental roots? What does it mean for these youths to be called Iranian-American? Would such an identity reduce their chances for social, political, and economic mobility? How are these youth perceived by their American peers and what are the implications of such a perception? These are some unanswered questions about the identity of the Iranian immigrants and their children. These questions need to be answered from a perspective devoid of mythological characterization surrounding the concept of "Iranian identity." A great deal of our concerns about the "Iranian identity" in the United States as well as in other foreign lands, are shaped by a romantic, unilinear, ethnocentric, and ahistorical notion of an "Iranian identity" which is defined in terms of a glorious past. Such an Iranian identity is said to have existed and maintained by Iranians since pre-Islamic period (See Mahdi, 1993). We need to demystify the concept of "Iranian identity" and locate it within the varied contexts of the Iranian history and culture. We need also reject its ethnocentric claims to superiority over Arabs and its exaggerated glorification of pre-Islamic period. Speaking of an "Iranian identity" we have to be extremely careful not to view this concept statically, even though the concept itself is inherently conducive to a static definition by embracing a set of fixed characteristics as its constituent elements. Cultural or national identity is a dynamic phenomenon which is constantly in a state of construction, reconstruction, and deconstruction. Confronting new people, situations, challenges, information, risks, and rewards, individuals often redefine their own altitudes, interests, actions, view of things, and so on. Human personality is very dynamic and capable of maintaining a very fluid character even with respect to fixed realities and objects. People's like and dislike change all the time. The variables affecting these changes range from individual to collective, social to environmental, and biological to psychological. Even though it is presumably easy to identify those who have a common "cultural identity," it is to be understood that each individual is bearer of only fragments of the reality of that culture. In fact, the subjective and objective realities of a culture shaping the identity of an individual are subject of interpretation and selective appropriation. No two individuals either understand their culture in the same way or react o it in the same manner. Culture is a contested and negotiated domain and one's "take" on a culture is very much dependent on those negotiations. Finally, it seems more appropriate and much accurate to talk about "Iranian identities" rather than an "Iranian identity." Individuals have multiple identities which manifest themselves in different settings and in relations to different objects. These identities are shaped by age, social class, family, gender, ethnicity, locality, nationality, education, time, individual and collective history, etc. One's so-called "identity" is the articulation of one's differential positions relative to each of these variables. The multiplicity of these positions defies fixation of possibilities that are offered to individuals in their struggle to define themselves. In the context of migration, an immigrant's identity is constructed and negotiated through the social relationships s/he has with both the homeland and the host society. This relationship is under constant pressures of "push" and "pull" factors predicating the experience of immigration. Given the dynamic nature of these relationships, it is hard to think of its outcome as a fixed reality. For an immigrant, the domain of identity is the social space where s/he explore and develop a workable ground for social existence in the host society. The parameters of this space are defined by the opportunities and obstacles allowing or inhibiting a meaningful coexistence with people and environment of the host society. What determines these parameters is invariably the culture of the host society. Maintaining one's "national identity" in the context of immigration means developing a comfortable co-existence between the culture of the homeland and that of the host society. Such a co-existence requires compromise, selection, and reciprocity. Understanding these mechanisms and the development of an "immigrant culture" requires not only the study of the features of the national culture but also of the host culture. An immigrant's identity is very much dependent on the interaction of these two cultures in the context of the host society.

Determinants of Adaptation:

In dealing with the question of adaptation of second generation immigrants, we need to be careful not to see this cohort as homogeneous. Several distinctions are in order and without these considerations we are bound to make unfounded generalizations. Factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion, social class, quality of collective resources, type of reception, length of time in host society, parental activism, and degree of spatial concentration seem to be highly correlated with the differential experiences these young people have. Attention should be given to the effects of each of these variables on the experiences of this generation.

1. Age of Arrival and Birth Place: Studies have shown a direct correlation between the age of arrival of immigrants and their success and failure in adaptation and assimilation to the host society. The younger the immigrant, the higher the chance of smooth assimilation and faster adaptation. The older the immigrant, the harder the process of adaptation. Of course, the religious and educational backgrounds are important intervening variables in this regard. This same outcome is true for the immigrant children, i.e., those who come to this country with their parents. In this regard, there is a need to distinguish between the children of immigrants and immigrant children. The former refers to those children who are born in the United States and the latter to those who were born outside of the United States. This distinction will not be important, if the latter have not had any significant schooling in their native country. However, the distinction becomes important if the child has spent a significant portion of his/her youthful age in the native country. Immigrant children have the advantage of having directly experienced the realities of the native culture in its own context. In their case, this experience is not readily assumed. For the children of the immigrants the experience of a visit to parents' homeland, if happens at all, depends more on social class, family characteristics, parental choices, and political considerations. Even when it does happen, such an experience is often transitory and of short duration. For the immigrant children, the experience of the homeland, especially if it has had a long duration and involved some schooling, might have long lasting effects on their personality. The pattern of adaptation of children born outside of the United States therefore might very well demonstrate some differences from the pattern of those who are born in the United States. The duration of the early experience of the immigrant children will have considerable effects on their linguistic loyalty, religious orientation, cultural adaptation, and career options. As Portes (1996: x) indicates, the process of maturation of the children of immigrants cannot be extrapolated from the experiences of the immigrant children. There might be subtle but still significant differences that need to be explored.

2. Gender: Gender has a very significant role in the development of personality in the Iranian culture. Iranian culture, both in its Iranian and Islamic dimensions, is patriarchal and treats the socialization of males and females quite differently. The restrictions put on the female children are very extensive and go far beyond adolescence. Given this difference and the diametric differences between gender-related values of Islamic and Western societies, there are bound to be some differences in the way in which immigrant parents approach the socialization of their daughters and sons. Observation of parental anxieties seem to indicate a higher level of concern among parents raising daughters in Western nations. These additional concerns and anxieties are caused by normative features of the immigrant's native culture and the structural characteristics of the host society. What are these normative and structural differences and how do they play themselves out in this regard? What implications do they have for the identity formation of immigrant children? The answers to these questions have important implications for the adaptation of the children of the Iranian immigrants.

3. Social Class: Census data indicate that most of the Iranian immigrants in the United States consist of middle and upper class individuals who are highly educated and have a better than average standard of living. This separates the Iranian immigrants from most other recent immigrants in the United States. Many Iranian immigrants in the United States have come from upper and upper middle classes in Iran. Even those who came from modest backgrounds have been able to secure a solid middle class position for themselves in this country, thanks to their education, dedication, and hard work. These Iranians are highly conscious of the value of education and make every effort to secure a good education for their children and to prepare them for the highly advanced technological society they are living in. A cursory observation indicates that an increasing number of the second generation Iranians are completing degrees in technical, medical, and scientific fields. A study of the educational choices and achievements of the second generation Iranians will show the extent and kind of investment the Iranian immigrants have made in the education of their children. With regard to social class, it is also important to notice that, given the socio-economic status of the Iranian immigrants, the pattern of adaptation for the Iranian second generation is quite different from that of most other immigrants in the United States. Given the low economic status of Pre-WWII immigrants in the U.S., the challenge for their second generation youth was to find ways of breaking out of their ascribed status. Many of those young immigrants, such as Latinos, were trapped in inner cities and faced harsh realities of job shortage, economic decline, debilitated housing, poor schooling, gang violence, and declining morals. While there might be some Iranian immigrants who find themselves in similar circumstances, the majority of Iranian immigrants live in suburban areas and hold middle class jobs. Their children attend decent schools and are rarely found in gangs or criminal ranks. 4. Ethnicity: Since Iran is a multi-ethnic society, the Iranian immigrants in the United States come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. With the exception of the Persians, who are the dominant ethnic group in Iran and often equate their ethnicity with their nationality, the other ethnic Iranians have a dual identity. Being highly educated, Iranian immigrants from the latter group show a higher degree of ethnic consciousness. For some of these Iranians, their ethnic identity takes precedence over their national origin. For instance, for politically active Kurdish Iranians in the United States, their Kurdish background serves as the primary source of identity. While this may not be the case for Iranian Turks, it certainly is the case for those Iranians whose ethnic aspirations are frustrated in Iran. Aside from the issue of multi-ethnicity, Iranians' attitude toward the concept of ethnicity has been ambivalent. While there is a desire for recognition of their unique cultural and national traditions, Iranians wish to avoid negative implications of such a recognition. There is no widespread expression for an "ethnic" recognition among Iranians, even though they have a strong desire to maintain some of their cultural heritage and national symbols. Given the "ethnic" character of groups known as "minorities" in this country, many Iranians seem to have no interest in being associated with those groups, even though in some ways they suffer from similar prejudices and stereotypes afflicting those ethnic minorities. For that reason, it is not clear whether the Iranian immigrants are very much interested in being identified as an ethnic group in the way in which other ethnic groups are recognized in the United States. While most Iranians are comfortable with the label "Iranian-American," they show little interest in being viewed in the same way other hyphenated minorities are viewed in this country. Many Iranians seem to like to be identified by their achieved status in this society, i.e. as professionals with a deserved status (See Ansari, 1992: 60). This obviously is partially the result of their social class status in American society. Being high on socio-economic status, many Iranians have even surpassed their American counterparts. Their ability to compete in the labor market with the members of both the majority and minority groups in this country has made it possible for many Iranian immigrants to bypass "minority status" entirely. Furthermore, the commitment to professional identity often insulates these Iranians from association with prevailing "ethnic" problems in the United States. Given these mixed trends in the choice of identity, it becomes prudent to avoid any pre-mature labeling of the Iranian population in fixed categories. Given the infancy of this community in the United State, it certainly is pre-mature to regard this matter closed. This population is still goring through various transitions and is experiencing various forms of ambivalence in forming its "immigrant identity."

5. Type of Reception: The quality of immigrants' life are in many ways determined by the quality of reception they receive in the host society. If the reaction to their arrival is positive, the process of adjustment and assimilation goes smoothly. If the immigrants' culture is viewed negatively, it will be unlikely that they will be welcomed to the host society. By and large, Iranians who came to the United States prior to 1980 hostage crisis did not experience any particular prejudice and discrimination because of their nationality. However, since that crisis and because of the subsequent rise of the Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East, the perception of Iran changed from a country of peace and stability to a country of turmoil and unpredictability. In the international airports Iranians are often treated suspiciously. Iranian government is labeled by the U.S. State Department as a "rogue state," and Iranians are often looked at as terrorists, fanatics, and militants. These stereotypes have generated prejudices and discrimination towards Iranians as well as other Middle Eastern immigrants. Despite these general stereotypes and prejudices, we do not have any systematic study of the kind and extent of discrimination against Iranians, especially the second generation Iranians. Do the second generation Iranians face as much discrimination and prejudice as their parents? Are the prejudices and discrimination experienced by the second generation Iranians in any shape and manner different than the ones experienced by their parents? These are questions which demand fresh studies and scholarly attention. If it is true that there are prejudices and negative perceptions against Iranians, then we need to be able to pinpoint their effects on and consequences for second generation Iranians because discrimination, real or perceived, affects how children define themselves. Based on the research done for other nationalities and ethnic groups (Rumbaut, 1996), if the second generation children perceive more discrimination, they will be more likely to define themselves according to their national origin. If they perceive less discrimination, they are more likely to define themselves as American. In the study that I am conducting, I have hypothesized that the American-born Iranian youths who have experienced little or no discrimination are more likely to identify themselves as American than Iranian-born youths who have had discriminatory experiences in this country.

6. Parental Activism: Regardless of social class, religion, education, and ethnic identity, parental activism and involvement is highly correlated with the development of a national or ethnic identity among second generation immigrants (Waters, 1996). Those immigrants who are involved in ethnic voluntary organizations or are heavily involved in the practice of rituals and ceremonies from their native culture seem to instill a stronger sense of ethnic or national identity in their children. Parents who reach out to members of their extended family and interact with their co-nationals have more resources for providing a sense of community among their children. These family interactions provide an opportunity for second generation youths to actively engage in cultural and social practices that reinforce their native heritage. To what extent are the Iranian immigrants involved in community activities and collective practices where their children become engaged with other Iranians and Iranian culture? Can the second generation Iranians survive the ordeal of adaptation to the new society without supportive parents and community services? It is abundantly clear that the experience of adaptation for the first generation immigrants is often made easy by the supportive community of co-nationals. For the second generation this depends on how this generation perceives itself. Those who perceive themselves as American are more likely to seek support from the broader community of the host society rather than the limited community of their parental co-nationals. These children are less likely to have any extensive interaction with the relatives from their parent's country of origin, and are less familiar with the values, norms, and the language of the parent.

7. Family Cohesion: There is a high correlation between the cultural identity of the second generation immigrants and their intact family structure. Cohesive family ties and interaction with co-national immigrant peer groups create an ethos of community and collectivity that enrich the identity of second generation immigrants. To the extent that the first generation Iranian immigrant family remains cohesive and maintains its cultural inheritance, there is a stronger possibility of instilling a sense of native cultural identity in its second generation. The larger the number of relative in the states, the more interaction with the kinship group in the homeland, the more travels to and interaction with the homeland, the more stable the family, the stronger the possibility of keeping the young under the umbrella of native culture. However, given the forces of assimilation and disintegration, associated with separation of the family from the larger kinship in the homeland and assimilation to individualistic cultural values of in the United States, it remains to be seen how the Iranian family will hold up against these pressures and strains. Furthermore, the increasing rate of divorce among immigrant families is bound to have negative effects on the identity formation of the children of these immigrants. How these divorces influence these children above and beyond the universal impact of divorce on any child is not known. Studies are needed to determine the interaction of problems associated with immigration and problems associated with divorce.

8. Role Model: A major factor in positive reinforcement of cultural identity is role models available to young immigrant children. Successful immigrants who maintain their own cultural identity provide their children with a positive example of Iranian immigrants who have preserved their cultural identity while adjusting to their adapted culture and society. In this regard, the second generation Iranians in the United States are fortunate enough to have many successful parents who are often at the top of their professional ladder. Even those Iranians who have not been able to be professionally successful are often successful in providing a healthy support for their children economic and educational welfare. In this regard, the Iranian second generation immigrants are clearly privileged.


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