Growing Up Transnational: Colombian and Dominican Children of Immigrants in New York City

By Débora Upegui-Hernández | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Maintaining Transnational
Relationships

FAMILY AS ANCHOR OF TRANSNATIONAL TIES

Throughout the interviews, family emerged as key in maintaining contact and establishing social, economic, and interpersonal ties with the home country of the respondents’ parents for both Colombians and Dominicans. There were a number of specific reasons and circumstances why respondents visited or continued to maintain contact with their parent’s home country. Yet the explanations always revolved around family, either by reconnecting with or meeting new family members, helping relatives or sharing child-rearing responsibilities with extended family in the home country. Although researchers have been interested in the reasons why immigrants or their descendents might maintain attachments to their home country socially, economically, or politically (Deaux, 2006), they have not paid much attention to the role of family, both primary and extended. The findings in this study indicate that the family, as a social network and a source of interpersonal, social, and psychological relationships, serves as an anchor for the socialization of individuals into the culture of a national group and prolongs their connection with their parent’s home country. In effect, it acts as a ‘remooring’ (Deaux & Ethier, 1998; Ethier & Deaux, 1994) context for their social identities based on the culture of the national group they had been socialized into.

Rather than an abstract cultural or social group, the family unit becomes the main referent for the children’s understanding of what it means to be members of a particular social group that differs from the

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