The French in the United States: An Ethnographic Study

By Jacqueline Lindenfeld | Go to book overview

3

Voyage to the West: From France to the United States

In a recent study focusing on transitional stages in the lives of immigrants, acculturation is depicted as a process of second socialization that requires "coming to terms with a new culture after having developed a full personality in the culture of origin" ( Hoerder 1996: 212). This is a call for attention to the background of first-generation immigrants, which can have an impact on their adaptation to a new country. Who were they in their homeland? Why did they undertake a voyage that would change their lives for ever?

A consideration of pre-emigration characteristics and motives for departure seems to be an appropriate prelude to a study of acculturation. In this chapter, we first examine these particular aspects of the transition from France to the United States at a general level. Then we turn to individual trajectories of contemporary French immigrants whose voyage resulted in permanent settlement on the West Coast, as documented in my ethnographic data.

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