As They Wait: Undocumented Ecuadorians In New York City
My dissertation explores the tension between temporary and permanent migration. While many migrants leave for the United States intending to work for a short time, many end up staying much longer than originally planned. Why does temporary migration seem so often to become permanent? The answer I explore is based on the concept of embeddedness, or lack thereof, as developed in economic sociology. The decision to leave is made in dense social spaces. Once emigrants have left, however, social density drops. The emigrant conditions-the effects of distance, the new kinds of jobs, the lack of papers-contribute to making decision-making elusive, and return is continually put off. The concept of waiting is discussed to capture the migrants' "non-decision" to stay as time goes by. The material I present concentrates on two Ecuadorian families of urban and relatively middle-class background, now undocumented in Queens (NYC). While participant observation was employed to build relationships and extended conversations with the emigrants, most of the material is socio-biographical, as I reconstruct the social world they come from in Ecuador, and discuss how this background helps us understand their emigrant trajectories. The combination of participant observation and socio-biographical methodology aims at drawing the links between life in the sending and receiving country, moving back and forth between the migrants' present and their past. One of the goals of the dissertation is to let migrants speak for themselves as much as possible-extensive transcriptions from interviews seek to convey some of the original texture of immigrant life.
Berezin, Mabel M.; Jones-Correa, Michael; Cook, Maria L
Ph. D., Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis