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Stretching Limited Resources Here and There: A Multi-Sited Ethnographic Study of Migrants from Guerrero in the United States

Montes, Veronica
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Sociology
Degree Supervisor:
William I. Robinson and Juan-Vicente Palerm
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Hispanic American Studies and Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Household Economic Strategies
Transnational Mexican Families
Transnational Migration
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

This dissertation examines the interplay between processes of globalization and transnational migration and their impact at the micro level in the understudied area of gendered household economic strategies in both sending and receiving communities. Drawing on a multi-sited ethnography study which employed a two-phase mixed methods approach, I analyzed migration histories, occupational mobility, migration dispersion in the U.S., and household economic strategies, in two transnational communities: 1) Acayahualco, Guerrero Mexico and Santa Barbara, CA and 2) Mayanalan, Guerrero Mexico and Wilmington, DE. To ascertain key socio-demographic features of the populations under study, I developed a 162-item survey that I administered to 90 households in the sending communities of Guerrero, Mexico. The survey results were both complemented and challenged by my multi-sited ethnographic research comprising 50 in-depth interviews, along with participant observation in the sending and receiving communities.

This study offers two contributions to sociology: in the one hand it examines the ways in which globalization takes place at the local level, specifically in the social context of international migration. By undertaking this type of dialectic analysis of the global and the local, this study sheds light on the individual's response capabilities and, more importantly, on their agency power in the face of global processes. This proactive agency on the part of the transnational migrant families becomes evident as they are observed looking constantly for ways to "stretch their limited resources" to cover expenses by relying on their unlimited resourcefulness. In this context, international migration should not be viewed simply as a survival strategy for peasant families, but, as a mechanism of reaction and resistance against global capitalism barriers.

On the other hand, I demonstrated throughout this work, the social phenomenon of international migration in these two communities, and within their domestic units, is the result of an accumulative and uninterrupted process that has been shaped by a vast number of learning experiences, social and cultural exchanges, and innovative and resourceful practices to cope with the challenges of becoming transnational. The transnational perspective allows us to underscore how, in spite of being physically separated by great distances, the development of household economic strategies by migrants and their families are deeply linked. This transnational linkage allows migrants and their families in their communities of origins to cope with the challenges of a globalized economy that has been detrimental to their living conditions. In this sense, the results of my study counter the view that sees migrants and their families in their communities of origin as puppets controlled by forces beyond their own control. Rather, this study emphasizes how migrants and their families with hard-working ethics look for opportunities to improve their socioeconomic circumstances and enhance their living conditions.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (432 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Veronica Montes
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