When The Ties Don't Bind: Gendered Social Networks Among Latinos in East Boston
Godles, Lauren E.
- Using ethnographic observations and twenty semi-structured in-depth interviews with ten men and ten women from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, in this thesis I examine the ways in which social networks shape the processes of migration, initial settlement, and social-psychological and economic development of low-wage Latino immigrants in East Boston. Ultimately, I demonstrate that ... read moresocial networks are essential to both male and female immigrants during the initial settlement process for finding jobs and places to live. Later on, social networks have both benefits and drawbacks for all immigrants, but men and women react to the drawbacks differently. The men I interviewed intentionally isolated themselves and retained only amistades (acquaintances), while the women chose to seek and maintain intimate ties with amigos (friends). / In this study, men often perceived a downward shift in status upon arrival due to gender norms that challenged their hegemonic dominance (machismo), while women described feeling more independent in this country. When confronted by cultural norms that conflicted with their own in the host society, men and women employed divergent strategies to maintain their self-esteem and independence. Overall, women expressed a commitment to staying in this country while men relied on the vague notion that they would soon return home. Women_ï¿½_s commitments to staying in this country and establishing roots here facilitated their formations of social networks, while men_ï¿½_s commitment to the _ï¿½ï¿½myth of return_ï¿½ï¿½ made them unwilling to invest financially or emotionally in this country. Ultimately, while trusting relationships with amigos were not essential to everyday survival, they provided healthy outlets for dealing with traumas that were common to the wage-labor migration experience in Boston. /read less