Edited by Deborah M. Figart and Tonia L. Warnecke
Chapter 30: Family migration in the US
Until recently, scholars assumed that male migration experiences were typical and therefore were sufficient for explaining the migration process. Researchers contributed to this assumption by conducting empirical studies primarily on male migrants. However, nearly half of all 200 million international migrants are women. Since the 1980s, the feminization of migration has led feminist scholars to develop more appropriate studies by analyzing the various ways in which gender affects motivations for and patterns of migration, household decision-making, networks, family relations, macroeconomic policies, labor market outcomes, relocation adjustments, and so on. Feminist theories of migration do not view gender as the primary factor influencing female migrants. Rather, gender is understood through the lens of inter sectionality since gender is constituted by social class, race-ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, religion, age, and sexuality. Patricia Pressar (1999) says that the process of ‘engendering’ migration studies involves analyzing the ways in which changing political and economic conditions affect male and female migrants differently as well as the role played by mediating institutions, such as households in international migration. Moreover, migration is often a disruptive process that affects a migrant’s sense of self, group identity, and family roles. After relocation, migrants must learn to negotiate new social systems, institutions, and meaning systems (Lansford et al., 2007). Migration between the US and Mexico is often described as ‘transnational’ since migrants tend to maintain strong familial and cultural ties to Mexico but are also involved in and connected to institutions and practices within the United States.
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