Second generations

by Nadia Bamoshmoosh – Law Student at the University of Florence​

OCTOBER 28, 2020

A bridge between two cultures


There is a generation of men and women born in the West but their parents are from elsewhere, they are forgotten but at the same time they are at the center of everyone’s attention since they are seen as the “migrant”, even if they are the future of Europe: second generation people or G2.  


 Multiethnicity and multiculturalism in Europe are two phenomena that are eradicated and that are nowadays normality pretty much in all the States of the old continent. Looking at the news, we immediately notice how migrants are in the spotlight: in Italy the issue of the Mediterranean refugees has been discussed for years and still is one of the main points of the campaign trails of the sovereigntist and right-winged parties; in the UK and France migrants of the old colonies still demand a more complete

recognition by the just-mentioned states; in Hungary and other eastern Europe countries there is a negative stigma of every person who is not a citizen of the State itself.

A specific topic that is not as much discussed as what we have just said in this vast area of “immigration” is the one of second generations. By second generations we mean:” a person who was born or was raised in and is residing in a country that at least one of their parents previously entered as a migrant”. In 2014 the number of these second-generation migrants in Europe reached 6.1 % of the total EU population; this number is, of course, destined to be higher in the future.

The more precise situation in Europe of this second-generation migrants (whose upbringing in reality has been in only one place so they can’t be properly defined as migrants) differs from country to country. We can divide G2’s conditions Europe in four big areas:

- France, UK, Germany and Benelux countries have faced this phenomenon for years to the point where we cannot only talk about second-generation but also third, fourth etc. Every State has faced the situation in different situation usually according to the political situation which influences a lot what these kids will have to deal with. For example, in France there is the tendency to assimilate the migrants and regard them as French but at the same time it is common for third-generation kids to still be emarginated from society. On the other hand, the UK has enhanced diversity more and its legislation allows for G2 to express their role better in the society.

- Nordic countries have developed programs of social inclusion have worked in a relatively efficient way leading to a quasi-immediate integration of every migrant, especially second-generation migrants.

- Mediterranean countries: they are new with this event. Indeed until 40 years ago these States were more concerned with matters of emigration rather than immigration and this is why immigration policies are still not very defined and well-structured in this area. 

- Eastern countries: second-generation migrants are rarer and are still facing many problems with any kind of recognition by the State.


Beyond this differentiation, we can discuss this topic talking about two common aspects: legal and social acceptance by the State system, and the identity of these persons.


When we think of the typical German citizen for example, it is not common to imagine a person with darker skin tones and a full beard; nevertheless, German people of Turkish descendant are estimated to be around 5% of the population. While most countries have succeeded with a legal recognition of citizenship, with some exceptions and conditions related to the so-called jus sanguinis applied mainly in the southern countries of Europe, social acceptance of second-generation migrants is still a big issue also in those States where migrants have been present for centuries. To these days, women wearing headscarves are not always accepted as European because of their believes and/or origins, men with dark skins are thought to be migrants who will never be able to be of a Western country: when Sadiq Khan became mayor of London, many doubted his Englishness; in Italy, Milan-city counselor Sumaya Abd Elqader (born from Jordanian parents) wasn’t well accepted at the beginning due to her origins and her hijab.  For example, many of these G2 people can narrate a story of a conversation with an “autochthonous” person that was surprised with the fluency of the language of the former not understanding that the language is indeed their mother tongue! However, there are going to be more and more of such figures such as Sivan Maruf counselor of Delft or Rachida Dati, former EMP and justice minister of France. 


Social acceptance however is not only a problem that has to be dealt by the outside: it is a psycho-social matter as well for G2 people themselves. There are four main ways of insertion of this slice of the population in the State it lives in: assimilation which erases any traces of the origins of the person; ghettoization of the person who doesn’t have any connection with the country they live in; isolation (and this is the most problematic and dangerous solution) of the individual; and full integration which means that the person will be both of the state they live in without forgetting its origins. The last option is the one to be preferred as G2 people are part of the future of Europe. Not acknowledging them or not making them feel fully European even if they have a second culture of origin, which in reality is just an enrichment to everyone, is disadvantageous for the environment they live in: this indeed would mean that a person every twelve who is living in Europe is not expressing their full potential. G2 are the doctors, engineers, architects and entrepreneurs of the future, the earlier we start to comprehend this by adopting programs of inclusion and integration that encourage diversity and multiculturalism, the earlier we will get positive results. If there is a continent that has been doing this for centuries starting from the Roman Empire to the point that it has become a center of richness, this is Europe: so, what the latter has to do is continuing following this track.