Figure 1: Theoretical model for all transitions and all ethnic groups.
The immigrant or minority status in the respective country is assumed to result in migration-specific challenges that become especially pronounced in developmental transitions. These transitions are accompanied by needs to reorganise the family life, by a different balance of familial and environmental influences on the development, and by the formation of new social relationships, competences etc.
The change into formal educational systems of children (kindergarten and school) or informal transitions (into first romantic relations and marriage), for example, need an adjustment of the family system. These transitions are especially important for adolescents’ long-term development, since they occur within the «formative years» and set the course for developmental trajectories and later adaptional outcomes.
Of special interest are the strategies immigrants apply in order to successfully adjust to such transitions, which are strategies of dealing with transitions. At first, it needs to be considered, whether immigrant and native groups differ in the degree of investments regarding the transitions. Parental investments are defined as actions aimed at preserving and/or enhancing the adaptation process. Investment strategies are represented by the Five Ss: Safety/ Sustenance (i.e., instrumental and material support), Socio-emotional Support (i.e., attention and providing information), Stimulation (i.e., creating an environment that responds to social and emotional needs), Structure (i.e., arranging the inputs), and Surveillance (i.e., keeping track of the activities of the child). These investment strategies are meant as generic terms that need a transition-specific definition. The second concept guiding our research regards control strategies (reactions to problematic situations described in vignettes). They may either actively alter their situation (primary control) or they may regulate affective states (secondary control) (Heckhausen & Schulz, 1993). Since situations vary in opportunities for action, a further subdivision regarding their selective (goal oriented) or compensatory (loss-oriented) function is made. It is assumed that the employment of situation-adequate regulation strategies is crucial for the long-term adjustment of second generation immigrants.
Target Variables («5 Cs»)
An optimal process of dealing with the transitions will result in positive outcomes. It is another specific aim of the project to focus on positive instead of negative outcomes of development. The reason for studying positive outcomes relates to the fact that the absence of problems may not necessarily indicate a successful adaptation to the transitions mentioned. Positive outcomes studied here represent facets of the concept «thriving», which represents the Five Cs of positive outcomes: Competence (i.e., abilities to cope successfully with social, academic, cognitive and vocational challenges), Confidence (i.e., an internal sense of positive self-worth), Connection (i.e., positive bonds with people and institutions with bidirectional exchange), Character (i.e., respect of societal rules, standards for correct behaviours, a sense of right or wrong), and Caring (i.e., sympathy and empathy for others) (Lerner et al., 2005). These Five Cs are the basis for Contribution to the self, family, community, and society (for instance through civic engagement) and long-term idealized personhood and positive adulthood.
In addition to the process of successful adaptation, basic resources defined as economic capital (Financial situation of the family), cultural capital (Education, language usage) and social capital (Strong and weak ties) need to be considered, because these resources are considered important for the adaptation outcome. Resources affect the outcome indirectly through the selected strategies of dealing with transitions and also have an impact on the perception of transition related challenges.
Finally, a number of moderating factors need to be considered in studying the adaptation process of transitions. Moderators in our study are characteristics of socio-demography like the employment situation of parents or the residence permit status, perceived opportunities and barriers (e.g. Perception of discrimination) which are context variables that determine the choice options regarding the transitions of the individuals and psychological traits (e.g. Self efficacy, Bandura, 1997).