What Works? Family Influences on Occupational Aspirations among Descendants of Middle Eastern Immigrants on the Swedish Labour Market

  • Pinar Aslan Umeå University University of Gävle http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6003-8823
  • Nader Ahmadi The Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise
  • Stefan Sjöberg University of Gävle, Sweden
  • Eva Wikström Umeå University, Sweden
Keywords: labour market participation, descendants of immigrants, family relations, social capital, cultural capital


In this article, we examine family influences on occupational aspirations among employed descendants of Middle Eastern immigrants. Using a qualitative approach, we conducted 21 semi-structured interviews with native-born descendants of Middle Eastern immigrants. We present and analyse their interpretations of their parents’ experiences and living conditions before, during and after migration and demonstrate how these interpretations shaped their own occupational aspirations. We discuss parents’ high expectations of their children in relation to ethnic-community valuations of educational and occupational achievements. These high expectations may increase the chances of social mobility but can also become a negative pressure, especially if parents set high standards but cannot help their children to meet those expectations. In these cases, older siblings who possess valuable knowledge of the educational system and labour market can function as important transferrers of resources.


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How to Cite
Aslan, P., Ahmadi, N., Sjöberg, S., & Wikström, E. (2019). What Works? Family Influences on Occupational Aspirations among Descendants of Middle Eastern Immigrants on the Swedish Labour Market. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 9, 134-160. https://doi.org/10.7577/njsr.2235