Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Abstract

Cezara Olga Crisan

Loyola University Chicago

ETHNICITY, ASSIMILATION AND TRANSNATIONALISM:

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF EASTERN EUROPEAN MIGRATION

TO THE UNITED STATES (1940-2012)

Transnationalism is a relatively new pattern of migration; the process by which transnationalism has supplanted assimilation has been the subject of this study, and it has been done by comparing the immigration experience of Eastern Europeans, before and after the demise of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

The study employed a qualitative methodology with a total of sixty one respondents divided in two groups from Eastern Europe - a "pre-communist wave" and a "post-communist wave" - who shared their migration stories through in-depth tape recorded interviews. The study emphasizes the different experiences between the two waves, first, by taking into account the socio-economic and political contexts of the sending and receiving countries, and second by tracing these experiences throughout from the lenses of ethnicity and assimilation theories to the transnationalist perspective

Transnationalism is a concept that has distinctive features when compared to circular migration. There are people from Eastern Europe who are engaged in circular migration, mostly to Western European countries. This implies temporary work and living in Western Europe, traveling back and forth, mainly for the purpose of better economic advancement.

In contrast, the transnational migrants are mostly permanent residents of the host country, in this case, the United States. Therefore, while they reside physically in one place, they are involved economically, socially and politically in both the host and the home country. This distinctive feature of transnationalism is often possible both because of the socio-political context of the home and host country of residence, and because of the higher level of human capital these recent immigrants possess.

The significance of this project, beyond the immediate focus on the comparative study over time of Eastern European migration to United States, is to develop the understanding of the notion of immigration and its effects on American society beyond the traditional view of American society as a "country of immigrants", contrasting immigration before and after the recently accelerated globalization, and using the transnational framework to advance theoretical understand of immigration patterns now and in the future.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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