Intercultural Couples: Crossing Boundaries, Negotiating Difference

Intercultural Couples: Crossing Boundaries, Negotiating Difference

Intercultural Couples: Crossing Boundaries, Negotiating Difference

Intercultural Couples: Crossing Boundaries, Negotiating Difference

Excerpt

Diverse populations in the United States have interacted increasingly during the last several decades, despite the persistence of racial segregation, ethnic antagonism, and anti-immigration sentiments. Cross-cultural, cross-racial, and international contacts have grown tremendously, facilitated by the breaking down of legal and cultural restrictions to interracial marriage, by affirmative action—which expands the opportunity for meeting people of diverse backgrounds in the workplace, and by technological advances that make possible greater mobility and communication around the globe. A rapidly growing consequence of this increasing contact is intercultural couples: domestic partnerships comprised of partners from different ethnic, racial, religious, or national backgrounds.

Although accurate statistics concerning such persons married to or living with each other in the United States are not readily available, existing data as well as estimates suggest that intercultural couples may well number in the tens of millions (Clemetson 2000; U.S. Census Bureau 2008a; 2008b). During the 1980s and 1990s, out-marriage rates for European American groups, for American Indians, and for African Americans in the United States increased significantly; intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Gentiles, and between persons of different class backgrounds and educational levels also grew (Kalmijn 1998). As new immigration from Asia and Latin America has increased racial and ethnic diversity in the United States, rates of intermarriage between racial and ethnic groups have risen concurrently (Lee and Bean 2004). Demographic changes in family structure involving an increasing number of individuals experiencing “the independent life stage,” or living on their . . .

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