Immigration Challenges and Possible Reactions to the “Other”

Kanopienė Vida, Bartochevis Vladas

Abstract


Many European countries have reached the stage of demographic development called a third demographic transition — when low birth rates cannot ensure the replacement of generations, immigration is a major factor of the maintenance of demographic balance or it leads to a slow population growth. Due to the large immigration flows, the ethnic composition of western societies is changing — the number of foreign-born population and persons with mixed ancestry is increasing, and these processes are projected to gain speed in the future.
In theoretical literature the presence of people from different cultures in a certain geographical space is defined using the concept of “multiculturalism” (J. M. Andre, 2007). This phenomenon is now becoming one of the major topics of public and scientific discourse. The article aims to assess the likelihood of ethnic changes in Lithuania, basing on the examination of the demographic situation in a country, to discuss public attitudes towards immigrants (as the “others”/“strangers”/the “strange”) and to dispute the theoretical interpretations of reactions against ethnic diversity and multiculturalism. Perception of possible reactions to the “other” can determine whether multiculturalism (as a phenomenon) will be a precondition of further cultural and economic progress, or, on the opposite, will be a cause of social conflicts. In order to achieve these objectives, the primary Eurostat and national statistical data, as well as secondary sources, are analysed, the outcomes of sociological surveys performed by international companies (Gallup) and Lithuanian researchers are presented and theoretical discourse of multiculturalism is discussed, focusing on the interpretations of the natural and the political responses to the human non-homogeneity.
Taking into account the demographic situation in Lithuania, it is necessary to speak about the possible increase of immigration flows in the future. This might become a serious challenge for the country, considering the negative attitudes of the Lithuanian population towards immigrants, as are revealed by the data of international and national sociological research. It can be suggested that prerequisites for the harmonious coexistence of multiple ethnic and cultural groups are formed along with the development of democracy in society.

Keywords


immigration; ethnicity; reaction; multiculturalism

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789