Date of Degree

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

John Torpey

Committee Members

Robert Smith

William Kornblum

Subject Categories

Sociology

Keywords

political transnationalism, migration

Abstract

What factors define transnational political participation and citizenship for contemporary migrants? This dissertation focused on how and why migrant activists from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic pursued political engagement, how their home country governments influenced migrants‘ political activities, and how migrant organizations shaped their transnational activities. The study found that transnational political participation among these two populations was driven by a dual marginalization narrative, where migrants draw from their personal experiences to conclude that they are marginalized in both the U.S. and in their countries of origin based on their status as migrants. Ecuadorian and Dominican political organization leaders use this dual marginalization to create a political identity to demand minority-group rights in both home and host countries. Migrant activists make calculated decisions on where to focus their claims for rights, which I refer to as strategic citizenship Strategic citizenship is shaped by nation-state actions and local organizations. The Ecuadorian and Dominican governments influence strategic citizenship through: 1) public discourse that defines migrants‘ status in society; 2) the rule of law; and 3) policies that shape the state-migrant relationship. While the Ecuadorian governments‘ actions encouraged greater migrant participation, the Dominican government‘s approach was more contentious, creating skepticism among migrants towards engagement. In both cases government policy, reinforced feelings of dual marginalization. Strategic citizenship was also influenced by the different organizations in which migrant activists were involved. Migrants active in home country political parties had considerable advantages in resources and government connections, but were stifled by national party demands, member attrition and unstable leadership. Social movement and civic organizations struggled to harness resources, but had more stable leadership, more ideological autonomy and cohesive membership. I conclude that migrant political transnationalism, when examined through a contentious politics framework, originates from shared experiences engendered by the migration experience, which is reinforced by nation-state and used by organized actors frame migrant collective action. Migrants‘ claims for minority rights in both sending and receiving countries reflect how these actors perceive their condition to be a consequence of ruling elite actions in each country, as well as their perceived contributions as subjects of two nation-states.

Comments

Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

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