Gender, Kinscripts and the Work of Transnational Kinship among Afro-Caribbean Immigrant Families: An Exploratory Analysis
Thornton Dill, Bonnie
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Using an integrated, quantitative and qualitative, research design this study explores the type, frequency, duration and circumstances of transnational kinship ties among Afro-Caribbean immigrants in the U.S. Focus is on how immigrants maintain kinship connections across international boundaries, the delegation of kin work tasks among family members, and the impact of gender and/or kin designated roles on these activities. Qualitative data is from in-depth semi-structured interviews with multiple members of four English-speaking Afro-Caribbean families, key informants and two group interviews among immigrants with transnational kinship ties (n=41). Quantitative data from a sub-set of the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) re-interview, an integrated, hierarchical national probability sample, is utilized to examine the statistical significance of factors that impact transnational kinship contact (n=101). The notion of kinscripts posited by Stack and Burton (1993) is with combined theoretical perspectives on doing and performing gender, the household division of labor, and literature on Caribbean families and migration to create a lens through which the activities and behaviors of study participants are analyzed. Findings indicate that gender, social class, family size and gender composition, parents residing in the Caribbean, and length of stay in the host nation impact the frequency, extent, and direction of kin contact among NSAL respondents and study participants with transnational kinship ties. Men were found to engage in kin work in the absence of available women in the family to perform kin work tasks. Additionally, the study finds that who executes the majority of kin work in immigrant families tends to be voluntary and closely linked to individual skill and personality.