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No 17 - 2012

Intersecting Perspectives on Conjugal Diversity
Directed by Catherine Therrien, Josiane Le Gall

New Perspectives on Conjugal Mixedness: The Subject and the Actor at the Heart of the Analysis
Catherine Therrien, Josiane Le Gall

When work in social science focuses on the socio-political and intellectual trends of a given period, it reflects the spirit of the times (see Varro in the present number). Consequently, the way in which researchers comprehend the subjects of their investigation is time-related, but also space-related, i.e. linked to the context in which they are situated. We thus determined that it would be of interest to visit the various theoretical perspectives that have led to the building up of the study area of mixed conjugality and to do so by starting with a synthesis of the theoretical frameworks that for a long time now have played a determining role in research on mixed couples. Following this, we would highlight the coming to the fore of the new perspectives that give a preferential role to the participants involved and which consider personal identity to be central to their analysis. These perspectives, which open up new subjects, and new viewpoints, while contributing to a change in the very language that structures this field of research, most certainly reflect the concerns of our present time.

Keywords: mixed conjugality, theoretical perspectives, personal identity, subject, participant

"Mixed Couples" Through Time: Towards an Epistemology of Mixedness
Gabrielle Varro

When dealing with mixed marriages, it is essential to replace the notions that seem most “obvious”, such as groups of origin, identities… in their historical and political context. After a glance at her personal involvement in this research – initially aimed at exposing the power struggle in conjugal relationships – the author offers a historical perspective on how the meanings of the terms ‘mixed’ and ‘mixity’ have been developed in connection with gender, religion, and nationality. She ends with a rapid overview of some French studies on mixed couples, stressing the changes that have taken place since the 1950s.

Keywords: epistemology, mixed couple, contextualization, France, sociology of language

Theoretical and Methodological Considerations Concerning Mixedness
Dan Rodríguez-García

This article offers some theoretical-methodological considerations concerning ‘mixedness’. It seeks to highlight the limits, pitfalls and derivatives of current literature with respect to the conceptualization of ‘mixedness’. After a preliminary contextualisation (definition, variables and main patterns linked to the phenomenon of ‘mixedness’, endogamy and exogamy), the aim will be to draw attention to the different key levels of theoretical and methodological complexity of the phenomenon, with the purpose of avoiding simplistic or restrictive analyses. We will therefore put into question the clarity of the notion of “mixed union”, the direct equation between hybridity and social integration, and will emphasize the inherent complexity of the processes of configuration of the resulting (mixed) ethnic identity.

Mots-clés: intermarriage, endogamy/exogamy, mixedness, mixity, hybridity, ethnicity, social integration, mixed couple

Food-Related Benefits and Obligations with the In-Laws of the Mixed Couple. French Daughters- and Sons-in-law Among their Taiwanese Allies
Fong-Ming Yang

Through the context of meals taken in common, this article studies the relationship between the in-laws and the spouse of the couple, in mixed couple situations. The author carried out research with French-Taiwanese couples living in Taiwan, in order to analyze the differentiated commensality (or table-companionship) according to the different status of the French daughters-in-law and sons-in-law (lover, common law partner and spouse) in his Taiwanese family. What emerges from this is that the hospitality, which shows itself by the sharing of the meal between a foreign son-in-law and his in-laws, is rich in symbolic, material, and emotional meaning.

Mots-clés: table companionship, mixed couple, cohabitation with in-laws, Taiwan, migrant, France

Descendants of Immigrants in Mixed Union Through the "Trajectories and Origins" Survey
Beate Collet, Emmanuelle Santelli

This article describes the marital option ‘mixed couple’ for North-African, Turkish and Sahelian descendants of immigrants in France. It links the cultural and social factors contributing to marital choice. The survey Trajectoires et Origines (INED-INSEE, 2008) provides statistical data on marital options (endogamous or mixed couples) and allows us to compare them with couples where both are French by origin. Mixed couples differ from the endogamous and also from French couples. They are similar to the French control couples with respect to their marital status (unmarried cohabitation) and to where they met each other, but on the other hand, they are closer to endogamous couples as regards their residential situations and religious beliefs.

Mots-clés: descendants of immigrants, marital option, mixed couple, endogamous couple, survey Trajectoires et origines

Use of Languages Among Intercultural Couples in Hong Kong: What Impacts on Identity Constructions?
Fred Dervin

This paper examines the construction of identities of three intercultural couples who share English as a lingua franca (but also other languages) in their day-to-day communication in Hong Kong, one of China’s Special Administrative Regions. I argue that this type of language contact, to date insufficiently studied, can generate new ways of looking at intimate intercultural relationships. The study is based on an anti-essentialist but constructionist understanding of identity, that allows bringing out a number of misunderstandings and identity games present in the couples’ discourses.

Mots-clés: intercultural, lingua franca, Hong Kong, constructionism, identity

Content and Usefulness of an Internet Discussion Forum for Parents of Autistic Children
Catherine des Rivières-Pigeon, Isabelle Courcy, Nathalie Poirier

Every day, millions of people use the Internet to lookup information, confide in or offer their help to others. This article presents an analysis of discussions on an Internet forum created for parents of children with autism. It’s objective is to describe these parents’ concerns and to understand how the forums could be a source of social support. The results highlight the efforts put forward by the mothers to seek proper services for the child. The proactive role played by the mothers is also brought up.

Keywords: autism, family, social support, seeking health and help, Internet