Transnationalism as a motif in family stories

Fam Process. 2005 Dec;44(4):381-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2005.00067.x.


Family stories have long been recognized as a vehicle for assessing components of a family's emotional and social life, including the degree to which an immigrant family has been willing to assimilate. Transnationalism, defined as living in one or more cultures and maintaining connections to both, is now increasingly common. A qualitative study of family stories in the family of those who appear completely "American" suggests that an affiliation with one's home country is nevertheless detectable in the stories via motifs such as (1) positively connotated home remedies, (2) continuing denigration of home country "enemies," (3) extensive knowledge of the home country history and politics, (4) praise of endogamy and negative assessment of exogamy, (5) superiority of home country to America, and (6) beauty of home country. Furthermore, an awareness of which model--assimilationist or transnational--governs a family's experience may help clarify a clinician's understanding of a family's strengths, vulnerabilities, and mode of framing their cultural experiences.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Attitude
  • Cuba / ethnology
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Family / psychology*
  • Friends
  • Greece / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Multilingualism
  • Pilot Projects
  • Russia / ethnology
  • Social Identification
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States