Transnationalism in Quantitative Focus

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William Haller
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The recent literature on immigrant transnationalism points to an alternative form of economic adaptation of foreign minorities in advanced societies that is based on the mobilization of their cross-country social networks. Case studies have noted the phenomenon's potential significance for immigrant integration into receiving countries and for the economic development in countries of origin. Despite their suggestive character, these studies consistently sample on the dependent variable (transnationalism), failing to establish the empirical existence of these activities beyond a few descriptive examples and their possible determinants. These issues are addressed using a survey designed explicitly for this purpose and conducted among selected Latin immigrant groups in the United States. Although immigrant transnationalism has received little attention in the mainstream sociological literature so far, it has the potential of altering the character of the new ethnic communities spawned by contemporary immigration. The empirical existence of transnationalism is examined on the basis of discriminant functions of migrant characteristics, and the relative probabilities of engaging in these kinds of activities is established based on hypotheses drawn from the literature. Implications for the sociology of immigration as well as for broader sociological theories of the economy are discussed.
This article presents evidence of the scale, relative intensity, and social determinants of immigrants' transnational political engage-ment. It demonstrates that a stable and significant transnational field of political action connecting immigrants with their polities of origin does indeed exist. The results help temper celebratory images of the extent and effects of transnational engagement provided by some scholars. The article shows that migrants' habitual transna-tional political engagement is far from being as extensive, socially unbounded, "deterritorialized," and liberatory as previously argued. Transnational political action, then, is regularly undertaken by a small minority, is socially bounded across national borders, occurs in quite specific territorial jurisdictions, and appears to reproduce preexisting power asymmetries. The potential of transnationalism for transforming such asymmetries within and across countries has yet to be determined. Grassroots symbolic and material relations connecting societies across national borders expanded to historic levels during the last third of the 20th century. These transnational connections simultaneously affect more 1 The data on which this article is based were collected by the Comparative Immigrant Entrepreneurship Project (CIEP) supported by grants from the National Science Foun-dation (SBR-9796286), Ford Foundation (no. 960-0527), and Andrew W. Mellon Foun-dation. We thank von Henneberg for comments on an earlier version. The senior author acknowledges the support and collegiality provided by staff and scholars at the Centre for Development Research in Copenhagen, where the initial version of the article was written. The contents are the authors' exclusive responsibility.
Diaspora tourism refers to the travel of people in diaspora to their ancestral homelands in search of their roots or to feel connected to their personal heritage. Whereas most tourists become attached to a destination after repeat visits, the tourist-destination relation in diaspora tourism is unique because tourists with immigrant origins often feel connected to the people, culture, and heritage of the destination before actually visiting the place. This study explores the relationship between second- generation immigrants' attachment to their ancestral homeland and their journey back "home," focusing on whether or not the second generation could feel at home in their parents' country of origin versus their current country of residence. This study employs secondary data from two studies on second-generation immigrants in the US: the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study and the Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles study. Findings revealed that there was an association between the number of diaspora tourism trips and feeling at home in their parents' country of origin. Second-generation immigrants who considered both America and their ancestral homeland as home took the highest number of trips, and their transnational attachment to two countries reflected the dual loyalty and identity of people in diaspora. In addition, those who experienced extended stays were more likely to feel at home in their ancestral homeland. Whereas such relationship was not necessarily causal, both length and frequency of diaspora tourism trips were found to be associated with immigrants' connection to the land of their ancestors.