Social Exclusion and African Immigrants in the United States
Saasa, Sherina Kacana
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In recent years, African nationals have been among the fastest growing immigrant groups in the United States. However, studies have shown that factors that facilitate integration of other immigrants into U.S. society, such as English language fluency, hard work and education, have not produced similar results for African immigrants. Evidence suggests various structural and relational exclusionary mechanisms that impede the incorporation of African immigrants in the U.S. The aim of this dissertation is to explore factors that influence the social exclusion of African immigrants in the United States and how this affects the wellbeing of this population. This study aims to answer the following research questions: (1) what factors best predict social exclusion among the African immigrant population? (2) what is the effect of social exclusion on the psychological and social wellbeing of African immigrants? And, (3) what is the impact of individual coping strategies on experiences of social exclusion among this immigrant population? The study utilized a cross-sectional survey design using a self-administered questionnaire. Study participants included African immigrants age 18 and above who are temporarily or permanently living in the United States (N=409). In study one, findings showed that discrimination, education, income, health, religion and length of U.S. residence were significant predictors of social exclusion among African immigrants. In study two, social exclusion was found to have significant negative effects on mental health, subjective isolation, societal trust and worries about safety. And finally in three, findings showed that the coping strategies of active coping and use of instrumental support were significant moderators on the relationship between perceived discrimination and social exclusion. Findings from this study contribute to the body of knowledge on African immigrants in the United States and offer several implications for social work practice including risk factors associated with higher levels of social exclusion, negative implications of social exclusion on psychological and social wellbeing, and the identification of coping strategies that can help mitigate negative effects of discrimination on social exclusion. Taken together, these findings can help promote efforts to enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of African immigrants in the United States.