Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America

Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America

Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America

Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America

Synopsis

Immigrants and their American-born children represent about one quarter of the United States population. Drawing on rich, in-depth ethnographic research, the fascinating case studies in Across Generations examine the intricacies of relations between the generations in a broad range of immigrant groups--from Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa--and give a sense of what everyday life is like in immigrant families.

Moving beyond the cliché of the children of immigrants engaging in pitched battles against tradition-bound parents from the old country, these vivid essays offer a nuanced view that brings out the ties that bind the generations as well as the tensions that divide them. Tackling key issues like parental discipline, marriage choices, educational and occupational expectations, legal status, and transnational family ties, Across Generations brings crucial insights to our understanding of the United States as a nation of immigrants.

Contributors: Leisy Abrego, JoAnn D'Alisera, Joanna Dreby, Yen Le Espiritu, Greta Gilbertson, Nazli Kibria, Cecilia Menjévar, Jennifer E. Sykes, Mary C. Waters, and Min Zhou.

Excerpt

Nancy Foner

Immigration is one of the most pressing issues in the United States. The foreign-born now represent about 13 percent of the nation’s population. Together with their American-born children, this group constitutes nearly a quarter of the United States—more than 65 million people. This is an astonishing figure. If today’s foreign-born and their children were to form a country, it would have approximately twice the population of Canada and slightly more than that of France or Italy.

The numbers are critical, but their implications are even more significant. Much has been written about immigrants in the labor market, in the educational system, and in neighborhoods in the United States. Much less scholarly attention has been paid to what happens in the privacy of their families, although understanding family dynamics is essential for appreciating the first- and second-generation immigrant experience. This volume puts the spotlight on a key aspect of immigrant family life: intergenerational relations. The primary concern is relations between immigrant parents and their children, many of whom were born or largely raised in the United States, although relations between immigrant grandparents and their grandchildren are also investigated. Intergenerational relations—so central in immigrant families—are characterized by an intricate tangle of attachments and divisions. Intergenerational dynamics in immigrant families help shape the contours and trajectories of individual lives and also affect involvements outside the confines of the family.

It has become a cliché to talk about immigrant children in pitched battles against tradition-bound parents from the old country, but the essays . . .

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