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No 6 - 2007

Recently Immigrated Families and Intergenerational Relationships
Directed by Josiane Le Gall

Josiane Le Gall

Because of the longer life expectancy, today’s families are characterized by the coexistence of generations that used to follow one another. This evolution of the family legitimizes the considerable growth of research on intergenerational exchanges. In addition, many kinship surveys tend to emphasize that the intergenerational dimension is neither devalued nor incompatible with the construction of individualities (eg, Dandurand and Ouellette 1992, Godbout and Charbonneau 1996, Bengston 2001, Finch and Mason 1993, Attias-Donfut 1995, Pitrou 1992). Among immigrant populations, however, there are far fewer analyses of permanence and transformations in intergenerational patterns of family relationships, and they focus mainly on the parent/child dyad. In fact, although family ties have been an essential theme that has emerged in recent decades in social research, the diverse family realities of immigrants remain little known (Wanner, Lerch and Fibbi, 2005, Kofman, 2004; Laaroussi, 2001). However, the importance of the family in the different phases of the migratory process has long been recognized, as it appears to be the space where migration and settlement are usually organized in a new country (Kofman, 2004).


Intergenerational Relations, Drivers of Transmission and Resilience in Immigrant and Refugee Families in Quebec
Michèle Vatz Laaroussi

This text emphasizes the significance of the “We” within the family context and networks as a factor in the social integration of immigrants, men and women, young and old. This “We”, with its strong sense of family, embracing a migratory project, acting as a platform for integration into the life of a new society, mediating participation in new social institutions, is also a catalyser that builds up resilience and may sometimes be almost the only benchmark of continuity in a trajectory characterized by disruption and change. The present text analyzes three dimensions that run through and make up the dynamics of immigrant families: the process of intergenerational transmission, family memory and history, and resilience. This means that we approach intergenerational immigrant space by way of the transmissions, the creations, the coalitions, the resilience, and the successes that it empowers. The analysis, based on a number of surveys of immigrant families in Quebec, is more specifically drawn from two research projects, one dealing with cultural transmission to children by young immigrant couples (Helly, Vatz Laaroussi and Rachédi, 2001), the other looking at resilience as a factor in academic success amongst young immigrants and refugees in Quebec (Vatz Laaroussi, Kanouté, Lévesque, Rachédi, 2005). In the context of these two projects, interviews were held with one or other members (parents and/or children) of 43 families of diverse origins, schooling and socioeconomic levels. The results indicate that neither the country of origin nor the schooling of the parents were the single determining factors that affected the process of intergenerational transmission or the resilience of their children. However, these factors did sometimes influence the contributing dynamics and, more especially, lead to a range of modes of transmission of family memory and history or even of the way in which the academic success of the children was encouraged.


Neonatality and Constitution of Knowledge in Migratory Context: Families and Health Services. Theoretical Issues, Anthropological Perspectives
Josiane Le Gall, Sylvie Fortin

The present paper, based on a still developing research project and the field experience of its writers, looks at the perinatal period, considered as a pivotal family learning moment. This period takes on a specific sense in a migratory context, characterized by the leaving behind of source family and an investment in a parental project (the child’s future often playing a major role in the migratory project). The birth of a child is also the moment when many immigrants are introduced to Quebec medical services. This raises two questions: how are family perinatal understandings and practices transmitted (and reinterpreted) to and by local society, and how do they resonate amongst the specialists in local health services? Since Muslims constitute a recent and growing number of immigrants in Quebec, we will focus more on this group, and its cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.


Spanish and Italian Families in Switzerland and Transition to adulthood
Claudio Bolzman

In this paper, our interest lies more especially in the transition between childhood and adulthood within the family circle. A study carried out in Switzerland, focussed on children of Spanish and Italian working class parentage, allows one to understand the whys and wherefores of the transitions as concerns these communities. By comparing them with a control group made up of children of socially similar Swiss origin, we can identify the specifics of the familial transition of these immigrant children, while noting that as regards training and employment, there are strong resemblances between the two groups. We have focused on four main elements: the length of time parents and children lived together and the experience of the latter as autonomous beings; various issues related to marriage and having their own children; the couple’s management of daily tasks and decision-making, the intergenerational links between parents and children after the latter have left the parental home.


Human Trafficking and Family: A Neglected Link, Essential in any Work of Prevention and Protection
Jacqueline Oxman-Martinez, Jill Hanley

The present article addresses a new subject of concern: the impact of their families on victims, either by rendering them vulnerable to human trafficking, or by constituting an obstacle to the victim’s attempts to escape the traffickers, once caught in their net. When a woman or child are trafficked, their family situation is of prime importance as far as protection is concerned. Whether these victims fear for their families, or whether they are afraid that they will continue to be exploited by them, it is still essential that familyrelated problems should be taken into account and provide new avenues for research.


Care in the Context of Recent Immigration: The Limits of Family Solidarity Towards Family Members with Disabilities
Jean-Pierre Lavoie, Hélène Belleau, Nancy Guberman, Alex Battaglini, Shari Brotman, Maria Elisa Montejo, Karima Hallouche

A number of research projects have focused on ethno-cultural minority families and the solidarity they demonstrate towards incapacitated relatives. Such research has shown the great importance they attach to family solidarity, the significant amount of care they provide, and their low level of dependency on outside sources. However, most of this research has targeted either long-established immigrant groups, or mixed groups, thus debarring any grasp of the dynamics that influence recent immigrant families. The present study looks at 15 recently immigrated families who look after an incapacitated relative. An analysis of interviews with them indicates that there is no one single standard of family solidarity and that these families experience many constraints that restrict both their ability and their desire to take care of their incapacitated relatives.


Transnational Assistance Among Qualified Immigrant Families in Australia: A Comparison Between Italian Immigrants and Afghan Refugees
Loretta Baldassar

In this paper, Baldassar, Baldock and Wilding’s (2006) model of transnational caregiving is applied to two sets of recent immigrant families in Australia: Italian professional migrants and Afghan humanitarian refugees. While time of arrival impacts on transnational caregiving practices, recent immigrant families can differ significantly in their capacity, obligation and commitments to exchange care across distance.


Intergenerational Transmission in Children's Literature When Grandparents Are Called Nonna or Dziadek
Marie-Claude Mietkiewicz, Benoît Schneider

Amongst the recreational reading published in France between 1982 and 2005, and targeting children (from early childhood to adolescence), the authors have identified twenty-nine books that feature intergenerational relationships set in an intercultural context. The aspects of this literature they examined are those of transmission and family memory, focussing on the characteristics of intergenerational exchanges that help or hinder reciprocity. Though, within these stories, remote intergenerational relationships take on an idyllic appearance, day-to-day interconnections in immigration contexts clearly illustrate the difficulties inherent to the transfer from one culture to another.