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Sustained connections: the institutional transnationalism of next generation Latino-Americans

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Next generation transnationalism is overwhelmingly perceived as an emotional or non-institutional form of cross-border connectivity. This study takes a fundamentally different approach and attempts to define an institutionalized transnational space for this demographic. Investigating a non-representative sample of Mexican and Salvadoran individuals who are active within cross-border philanthropic and political organizations operating in California and Washington DC, the analysis suggests that next generation institutionalized transnationalism exists and should be taken seriously as a subject of academic interest. This mode of transnational connectivity assumes different forms, conceptualized in this study as ‘prominent’ and ‘non-prominent’ transnationalism - the former referring to frequent and essential contributions, and the latter to contributions that were less frequent and less essential to organizational development.
In understanding the causes of next generation institutional transnationalism, the study calls for a synthetic appreciation of the factors involved, a blend of structural factors - including personal attributes, socialization, social location, and institutional characteristics – and individual agency. An ‘actor-centred’ framework was also relevant, acknowledging prevailing structural conditions while remaining sensitive to the subjective contexts in which institutional transnationalism could emerge, and the capacity for individuals to define their own transnational trajectories. The analysis is open to the possibility that transnational organizations will survive beyond the first generation – a possibility largely found to be controlled by the characteristics of institutions and their potential for regeneration. Finally, the analysis contributes to the on-going debate regarding the relationship between transnationalism and assimilation. The evidence suggests that assimilation and transnationalism proceed simultaneously for the next generation. Sustained connections to the country of origin do not therefore necessarily delay, hold-back, or undermine incorporation.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Dec 2014


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