Open Journal of Social Sciences
Vol.02 No.11(2014), Article ID:51917,8 pages

Social-Psychological Model of the “Migration Circle”: Potential Emigrants, Migrants, Remigrants

Svetlana Gurieva, Tamara Kinunen

The State University of Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Russia


Copyright © 2014 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).

Received 5 October 2014; revised 4 November 2014; accepted 11 November 2014


А fundamentally new model of “migration circle” is considered in accordance with modern theories of migration and adaptation. This model is represented in the following basic stages: starting- up (the potential emigrants), the main (directly emigrants), and final (re-emigrants). The benchmark analysis of values and dominant ethnic tendencies of migrants residing at different stages of migration (at the miscellaneous points of the “migration circle”) has revealed the existing of the significant differences in the value preferences’ structure, dominant ethnic tendencies, social and cultural distance. The received data allow forecasting accurate to 72% the emigrants’ success of adaptation to a new social and cultural environment. Accumulating during the investigation scientific theoretical material allows finding solution of many practical problems arising at the threshold of emigration (potential emigrants) either in situations of the return to Motherland (re-emi- grants).


Migration, Potential Emigrants, Remigrants, Model of the “Migration Circle”, Preferred Values, Rejected Values, Social-Psychological Adaptation, “Ethnic Tendency”, Social-Cultural Distance

1. The Problem of Migration in Social Psychology

Last years’ social, economic and political changes have resulted in growth of intensive migration activity. The occurrence of compelled and voluntary migrants has brought appearance and development of the new school of social psychology―psychology of migration. The circle of scientific interests connected with the study of migration and adaptation processes grows continuously. In Russia , the researches of influence of the social-cultural environment on processes of adaptation have started only ten years ago.

In the social-psychological literature, the various models of acculturation and adaptation to the new conditions of social-cultural environment are considered [1] [2] [6] -[9] [13] and the various social-psychological features of the emigrants, such as ethnic identity, characteristics of psychological adaptation, emotional well-being, mental health are studied.

In the Russian scientific literature the following problems are considered: the emigrants’ experience of interaction with the representatives of foreign culture [2] , the degree of cultures’ similarity [11] , personal features of the emigrants [3] [5] [13] , the features of ethnic identity [4] [12] , and many others.

In the abovementioned researches, basically, there are the social-psychological problems of emigrants’ adaptation which were considered. However, the question of the psychological support to the potential emigrants and the individual social-psychological correction before the occurrence of adaptation problems in the country of emigration practically was not examined. The social-psychological features of re-emigrants (people possessing the emigration experience, but for the certain reasons come back to motherland) have not got in a circle of scientific interests.

2. The Model of “Migration Circle”

The research, carried out in 2008, was setting on scrutiny of social-psychological features of the migrants, taking place on various migratory stages. Within the framework of this research the migration was considered as united process including several stages:

Preparation for emigration → Expectation of emigration → Emigration → Re-emigration (Figure 1).

Graphically we can it presented as a model of “migration circle”, from which position the study of social- psychological problems of voluntary or compelled migration is possible.

“Migration circle”―it is a model of migration as united continuous process including several stages: making the decision about emigration, preparation and expecting of emigration, emigration, and re-emigration.

The migrants (103 persons) participated in this investigation as an object of the research. All interrogated respondents have Finnish ancestors in the second or in the third generation and they are included in “Ingermanland Finns” national-cultural group.

Group 1―potential emigrants with an open date of departure deciding of emigration: 30 persons (14 men and 16 women, 16 - 67 years old), attendees of 3-year’s courses of the Finnish language in a community of

Figure 1. The model of “migration circle”.

Ingermanland Finns “Inkerinliitto”. The term of departure varies between 2010 and 2012 or/and is not determined precisely (documents are not sent in Consulate of Finland yet) in this group.

Group 2―potential emigrants with the fixed date of departure taking place on a stage “Expectation of emigration”: 30 persons (14 men and 16 women, 16 - 67 years old), attendees of the Consular courses of Finnish language, which are organized for the people ready to depart within some months.

Group 3―emigrants: 25 persons (11 men and 14 women, 16 - 64 years old), city dwellers of Lahti, which experience of emigration varies between 1 - 10 years.

Group 4―re-emigrants: 18 persons (3 men and 15 women, 16 - 50 years old) returned from Finland to Russia. The people with unsolved problems in personal and professional life are among the respondents of this group:

- the women compelled to return in Russia after the divorce (33%);

- the young people which have emigrated to Finland together with the mothers left in marriage for the Finns and have come back after the divorce of mother (33%);

- the young people which have emigrated to Finland together with the mothers left in marriage for the Finns and then come back in Russia, in spite of the fact that the mother has remained in Finland (17%);

- the young people, departed on studies in Finland initially planning to remain there for ever, but then come back in Russia (17%).

In this investigation, the following methods were used: “study of values” ([10] pp. 49-67), scale of a social distance [5] , “associations” method ([14] рp. 112-131), “create a planet” projective method [4] (variant by S. Gurieva, processing by T. Kinunen).

3. The “Create a Planet” Methodical Development

The meaning of the term “ethnic tendency” is “the global change of a society’s relation and behavior to the representatives of various cultural, national and ethnic groups” [4] .

This method has a substantial and empirical (0.60) value and was adapted in 2005. It was offered the respondents (259 people in the age of 20 - 45 years) to answer the questions twice (with a month interval). The factor of retesting reliability of this method is 0.75 (the level of value is 0.01).

The respondents had to draw a planet as a circle according the following instruction: “It’s a planet before you. ‘Settle’ the (draw) eight nationalities including your own on it. Mark the nationalities”.

a) If the representatives of the respondent’s nationality settle down at the centre of a planet, it is indicative of “ethnic centrism” (strategy of perception of norms and values of own group as a sample for estimate other cultures).

b) If nationalities are allocated in regular intervals and the planet is divided into the equal sectors, it is indicative of “ethnic relativism” (comprehension of the fact that all cultures are equal, but all are different).

c) If the nationality by which the respondent carries itself settles down in the top part of a planet, and other nationalities settle down below, the tendency of “ethnic domination” (the tendency of suppression the other cultures’ representatives).

d) If the respondent’s nationality is located in the bottom part of a planet, it is indicative of the tendency of “ethnic conformism” (readiness to obey the majority and to accept the norms of other culture).

The results are interpreted as follows (Figure 2):

Figure 2. The scheme of “ethnic tendencies”.

4. The Results of the Research and Their Discussion

4.1. Analysis of Values’ Gradation

The “study of values” method of S. Schwartz has allowed revealing the significant distinctions in values structure of respondents’ various groups. Herewith the analysis of values hierarchy has shown the existence of preferred and rejected values, which are common for all respondents’ groups. For example, the list of the most preferred values included base values of Russian culture: “Family safety”, “Health”, “Peace on the Earth”, “Social order”, “National safety” and “Inward harmony”.

The analysis of values hierarchy allows allocating the rejected values, which are common for all interrogated groups: “Power”, “Authority”, “Godliness”, “Complacency of life position”, “Creativity”, “Modesty” (Figure 3).

The analysis of distinctions in values structure (using Student’s T-criterion) for independent samples has shown that, in a whole, the values structures of respondents pertaining to groups 1, 2 and 3 differ vastly by three parameters―“Intelligence”, “Freedom” and “Faithfulness”. For example, the value “Faithfulness” (level of value: p < 0.05) is more significant for potential emigrants with a fixed date of departure (group 2) in comparison with potential emigrants with an open date of departure (group 1), and the value “Intelligence” (p < 0.05), contrariwise, is less significant. And for the emigrants (group 3), in comparison with the respondents from group 2, the values “Freedom” (p < 0.05) and “Intelligence” (p < 0.001) are more significant.

For re-emigrants, such values as “Spiritual life”, “Faithfulness”, “Honesty”, “Protection of environment” (p < 0.01) and also such values as “Sense of life”, “Real friendship”, “Ability to forgive”, “Unity with nature”, “Independence” (p < 0.05) are more preferred.

Here we find one more acknowledgement of the known fact that the people who are taking place in emigration often fall short of warm, confidential, friendly relations. Thereby, the values connected with people relations and reflecting the needs, that having undergone deprivation during staying in foreign cultural environment, are most significant for group of re-emigrants. In emigration and after returning home the existential frustration occurs, connected with search of life’s sense. For the sake of whom, by the name of what, acting we?

After returning home re-emigrants are compelled proving to people and first of all to itself, that the failure in emigration is an accident, temporary phenomenon. A comprehension of possibility to achieve a great deal on a native land occurs. However, the life brings in the corrective amendments, sets re-emigrants before necessity to pass up “the own way” to the end trying “to begin the life anew”: search for the appropriate job and decent habi- tation, arrange private life, adjust social contacts, which were lost during emigration. It explains, on our sight, the importance for re-emigrants of values reflecting an orientation on achievements.

Herewith, a transformation of re-emigrants’ values structure happens, which is shown in changed, “new” attitude to a nature and environment. While residing in Finland , the emigrants collide with necessity of the careful regard to the environment and nature. Such regard becomes a life norm not only fixed by the Finnish legislation: that is the integral element of the Finnish culture. However, after returning in Russia , a transformation of these values exists. In Russian culture there is no careful regard to a nature peculiar to the Finnish culture.

4.2. The Typical Image of a Finn in Conception of Migrants

The interrogated respondents in all groups have attributed to the “typical Finn” the following values: “Health”, “National safety”, “Family safety”, “Respect of traditions”, “Cleanliness”, “Environmental protection”. And the values rejected by the “typical Finn”, in opinion of all respondents’ groups, are: “Creativity”, “Variety of life”, “Feeling of a belonging”, “Influence”, “Courage”, “Authority” (Figure 4).

Figure 3. The list of migrants’ values.

Figure 4. The values of the “typical Finn” by eyes of the migrants.

Figure 4. The values of the “typical Finn” by eyes of the migrants.

The list of most preferred and rejected values of the Finns directly connects with stereotyped for Russian culture conception of a typical Finn’s qualities. Generated before the emigration and fixed during the emigration stereotyped conception of the Finns’ typical qualities is remained valid for re-emigrants. Now, if we shall ask, “How do you imagine the typical Finn?” in the received answers there will be necessarily the following features: conservative, accurate, clean, attentive, retired, favoring to a nature etc.

However, the significant distinctions in “the Finns’ values structure” exist in the beliefs of migrants, taking place on different stages of “migration circle”. Using Student’s T-criterion for independent samples allows revealing these distinctions. For example, the significant distinctions on six values were received comparing “the Finnish values” in conceptions of the respondents (potential emigrants (groups 1 and 2) situating at the different stages of preparation to emigrate): “Interesting life”, “Respect of traditions”, “Width of views” (p < 0.01), “Creativity”, “Variety of life”, “Ambition” (p < 0.05).

The respondents worth on a threshold of emigration (group 2) have the own image of a typical Finn. In their opinion, the Finns are similar to Russians in something: creative, ambitious, inclined to adventures, looking for new impressions, and certainly tolerant. In this instance, it is possible to explain this image, distinct from stereotyped representation, by the action of the psychological protection mechanism in response to a situation of uncertainty, fear, and expectation of the unknown. The emigrants hope that in the country, in which they are going to dwell, the hospitable owners will be glad to accept them.

Let us compare the points of view by matter in question of the potential emigrants with the fixed date of departure (group 2) to emigrants (group 3). In the specified groups the greatest quantity of significant distinctions (by fourteen values) was revealed: “skillfulness” (p < 0.001), “creativity”, “achievement of success” (p < 0.01), “interesting and various life”, “wisdom”, “ambition”, “respect of the elder”, “godliness”, “neatness” etc. (p < 0.05).

It’s necessary to notice, that, in opinion of the respondents―emigrants living in other culture, the Finns are rejecting such values as: “interesting life”, “creativity”, “variety of life”. It appears that in the real life Finns are not similar to Russians. The emigrants have gradual “restoration” of the deformed beliefs of the typical representatives of Finnish culture. Now the other features of the typical Finn appear as following: conservative, retired, and inclined to achievement the own purposes at the expense of the others people (it is possible, that of the emigrants), and aspiring to safety. The majority of the interrogated emigrants (78%) marked the language difficulties (insufficient knowledge of the Finnish language), which were complicated by communicative problems (the nescience of how to behave in specific situations).

4.3. The Image of the Country of Emigration

Not only image of the typical Finn, but also image of the country of emigration varies on the different migratory stages. By means of “associations” method the characteristics of Finland was received.

Respondents should write the first 5 words, which they think about, when they are asked about: Finland, Finns. All answers are ranged.

With help of the content-analysis it was possible to group the features. One of the most interesting aspects is a correlation ratio of the positive and negative features of Finland in various groups of the respondents (Figure 5).

At the stage of acceptance of the decision about emigration (group 1), the positive features of the emigration country prevail over negative. This correlation ratio is saved as before directly ahead of emigration (group 2), while the quantity of the positive features is increased twice. An equilibration of the negative and positive features is typical for the emigrants (group 3). Amongst the re-emigrants (group 4) the negative associations with a word “Finland” prevail over the positive ones (3:1).

Figure 5. A correlation ratio of associations.

Thereby, during preparation to emigrate the positive features are attributing to the country of emigration and to its people. The “embellishment” and psychological approximation of other culture are typical for this stage. While in a situation of re-emigration, an opposite process is taking place: the negative features are attributed to the country, in which it was not possible to adapt. In accordance with the laws of causal attribution, it is necessary to formulate the explanatory concepts of the reason of returning home and to believe in their existence. In opinion of re-emigrants, it was impossible to adapt in Finland because the arisen difficulties and problems (assumed or real) were insuperable.

4.4. Social-Cultural Distance of the Migrants

Social distance scale assesses the social-psychological acceptance of people. It is used to measure the national and racial, age, gender, profession, religion distance. Maximum of social distance means that person or ethnos separates from other ethnos or group. Minimum of social distance means that people are interested in national culture, are involved to interaction etc.

The lingual, communicative, and psychological difficulties have influenced upon formation of the social- cultural distance of the emigrants. It was supposed, that a largest social-cultural distance should be inherent exactly to the potential emigrants. The emigrants instead of the potential emigrants are less informed, and on our sight, they should have reduction of a psychological distance with the Finns during the direct interaction with them, in acquaintance to the features of their culture. However, the life brings in the corrective amendments. The results of research have shown that the social-cultural distance is really more conceived by the emigrants, than by the potential emigrants (Figure 6).

The profound acquaintance to the Finnish culture does not bring about the direct rapprochement with the own

Figure 6. Social-cultural distance of the migrants.

culture, i.e. the emigrants, while living in Finland , have seen those distinctions between own culture and foreign, which potential emigrants could not sight. Thereby, real (instead of prospective and expected) situations of interaction with foreign culture define the social-cultural distance. In addition, this distance is increasing, instead of reducing.

4.5. Unrealized Ethnic Tendencies of the Migrants

Besides the analysis of values, it was possible by means of “create a planet” projective method to observe the change in the ratio of demonstrated ethnic tendencies of the emigrants taking place at various stages of the “migration circle”.

It was manage to reveal that a change of demonstrated unrealized ethnic tendencies take place on various migratory stages. At a stage of acceptance of the decision about emigration the own culture is conceived as dominant, and directly before the emigration a part of respondents demonstrate a readiness to obey the foreign culture. During emigration, there is a transition from aggressive ethnic tendencies in the beginning of emigration to constructive ones after six years of emigration.

The fact that 20% of the potential emigrants, which are taking place on a threshold of emigration (group 2), haven’t indicated Finland and the Finns at the “ethnic world map”, urges to formulate once again a question of necessity and expediency of emigration for this respondents. It is possible, that exactly these potential emigrants will be included in the group with a low level of adaptation (unsuccessful adaptation) (Figure 7).

4.6. The Factors of Successful Adaptation, the Forecast of Adaptation Success

Let’s consider the factors of successful adaptation, which were revealed in this investigation. In the social-psy- chological labors by problems of adaptation the objective success criterions are listed: a level of language knowledge, availability of job and contacts (with friends, relatives etc.) [1] [3] [4] [13] and others, level of prosperity. The meaning of term “success of adaptation” is the emigrant’s subjective satisfaction by the basic spheres of the life in the new social-cultural environment. In this investigation, the subjective estimation criterion of adaptation success was used: migrants’ psychological connections with a word “Finland”. For example, for some emigrants the success of adaptation is not connected in any way to knowledge of the Finnish language and prestigious job, which do not guarantee the rewarding feeling and happiness.

The test of the average magnitudes, factorial and discriminating analysis, have given the following results.

a) the Most significant factors of subjective success of emigrants’ social-psychological adaptation are the own values of self-exaltation and beliefs of importance for the Finns the values expressing group interests.

b) 3 subgroups of the emigrants with a various level of adaptation (successful adaptation, unsuccessful adaptation, average level of adaptation) were selected. The emigrants, which are successfully adapted to the new social-cultural environment (they are subjectively satisfied with all spheres of life), respect and accept the values, norms, traditions of both own and Finnish culture. Herewith they do not think that they own culture (of deportation country) have superior to the foreign culture (of emigration country). The emigrants with a middle level of adaptation reject the own culture and the culture of the emigration country. The emigrants with a low level of

Figure 7. Ethnic tendencies of the migrants.

adaptation (subjectively unsatisfied by the life in the emigration country) reject the foreign culture; herewith they are focused at all points on native culture.

c) The results of the discriminating analysis allow expecting with 72% probability the following:

・ 50% of the potential emigrants, most probably, successfully adapt to the new social-cultural environment;

・ 7% of the potential emigrants approximately with an equal probability can be included in both groups: with successful adaptation or with middle level of adaptation success;

・ 17% of the potential emigrants, probably, will fall into a group with a middle level of adaptation;

・ 23% of the potential emigrants can hold place in both(either) groups: with a middle level of adaptation or with a low level (one) (unsuccessful adaptation);

・ 3% of the potential emigrants, probably, will can not successfully adapt.

5. Conclusions

The model of the “migration circle” that is developed and submitted in this investigation allows observing the transformation (revealing itself in the static aspect as the differences) of the emigrants’ own values (rejected or preferred) and ideations of emigration country including the image of its “typical inhabitants” occurring in various groups of the emigrants (on various migratory stages). The main factors of successful adaptation to the new social-cultural environment are the own values of self-exaltation and the knowledge of Finnish values denoting group interests.

By the results of this research, it is possible to expect that 50% of interrogated potential emigrants can successfully adapt to the new social-cultural environment and 26% of the potential emigrants will fall into a “zone of risk”: it is possible that they will have troubles during the adaptation.

On a threshold of emigration, there is an opportunity to predict with high accuracy (72%) of the success of adaptation to the new conditions of the social-cultural environment.

It begins possible to answer the main question on expediency and necessity of emigration for the concrete person.

The research has shown that the migrants taking place on different stages of the “migration circle” are considerably differing depending on group. For example, the potential emigrants have approximation of an image of Finn to the self-image and the “embellishment” of Finland . The revealed social-psychological phenomenon of “image transformation” is significantly influencing (the negative influence) on adaptation process.

Thereby, actual but not solved at this moment problems are setting before social psychologists:

1) A development of the adequate methodical toolbox for diagnosing the level of readiness to emigration and a forecast of successful adaptation’s probability;

2) A development of the adequate methods of social-psychological correction for preparing the potential emigrant to move to the foreign country;

3) A development of the methods of social-psychological support for people having unsuccessful experience of emigration;

4) A professional support for answering the questions like “For the sake of what does it need to change the established system of native values to foreign one, and does it need in general?”


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