The Impact of Migration on Sexual Relationships Among Iranian Immigrant Couples in London

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Parvaneh ASTINFESHAN, Essex University, United Kingdom
In this paper I investigate the factors contributing to changes in sexual relationships among Iranian immigrant couples. Transformation of attitudes, expectations, and behaviors regarding immigrants' sexual lives is explored by applying the segmented assimilation theory and social perspective on sexuality. The former recognizes a multipath process and different patterns of immigrant Iranians’ integration into the host (British) society (Joppke and Morawska 2003). The latter conceives of sexuality—in this case, sexual norms and practices--as a social phenomenon (re) formed by the social circumstances of people’s lives (Seidman et al. 2006; Rise 1967). My study is based on 36 semi-structure interviews conducted with married and divorced Iranian men (15) and women (21) in London. As my findings reveal, immigrants experience a significant change in their sexual relationships in the new environment, and they re-construct their sexual views and behaviors through critical reassessment of their past orientations and practices and a selective mix-and-match of ‘traditional’ norms and values with ‘modern’ options during their assimilation process (Shahidian, 1999). In comparison with non- or less religious, modern liberal couples, however, the traditional religious immigrants, especially women, have been much more affected by the challenge of new/different sexual norms and expectations encountered in the host/British society, and have experienced more severe crises in their sexual relationships which in some cases lead to separation or divorce.