familism and facebook

vasilis asked a good set of questions the other day:

“I wonder, doesn’t immigration break apart the extended family into nuclear family fragments? Does anyone actually bring along all 52 first cousins with them, along with spouses, children, parents etc? Of course ‘familismo’ values will be carried over the border, but to what degree can they be instilled in the next generation in the absence of all these people in their daily lives?”

now that i’ve thought about it a bit, though, i wonder if the picture he paints isn’t one that was more true of 20+ years ago than it is today in our über-connected world. i mean, i can follow in real time how my 12 year-old first cousin-once-removed’s gymnastics competition is going — or commiserate with her on how horrible her school lunch was today — and she lives in a different country! i can keep in touch with her and her brother and all my other cousins’ kids in a way i couldn’t do with their parents. back in the day, it was the odd phone call and even (omg) letters. now it’s email, facebook and txt messaging. instant gratification for the familist! (~_^)

and anyway, we’ve seen that both italian-americans and r.c. irish-americans are more familistic than anglo-americans, and … how long have they been in the country now? how long does this assimilation business take anyway?

assmiliation? pshaw. here from “Who is to blame for fractured Britain?” published last year in the telegraph:

“What ruined our community and the personality of our neighbourhood were the young Eastern Europeans who poured in from 2004 onwards. I am not criticising the character of these young migrants. They were generally hardworking, eager and ambitious. But they arrived all at once in large numbers and, most significantly, had zero interest in integrating. They lived and socialised exclusively together, watched Polish television channels via their satellite dishes, chatted to family back home for free on Skype, set up Polish shops to sell Polish food, newspapers and books, and they learnt only as much English as they had to. Seeing shop after little shop put up the words Polski sklep marked the end of the village I knew.”

mexicans in the u.s. don’t even need satellite television. they’ve got univision which is available on cable. any idiota can hook it up. i don’t know how much mexicans/hispanics in the u.s. use facebook, or if they’re all still on myspace, but they’ve (nearly) all got cellphones afaict and, i’m sure, can txt pretty easily to family members back home in mexico/wherever.

nope. i have a bad feeling that modern communications — not to mention the ease of travel nowadays — prolly lends itself to greater opportunities for immigrants to practice familism if they want than ever before. i know i can.

previously: hispanic family values and anglo-american vs. mexican family values and familism in the u.s. of a.

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familism in the u.s. of a.

following up from yesterday’s post, i thought i’d look at familism in some other ethnic groups in the u.s. in addition to the anglos and mexicans.

again, i’m looking at how much contact the individuals from different groups have with family members. this is a way of measuring “behavioral familism” — familism “expressed in everyday actions, or major decisions, informed by one’s attachment to family ties”. this time i stuck to just extended-family members (aunt/uncles, nieces/nephews, cousins) ’cause i thought that might be more telling — if you’re in regular contact … a LOT … with these more distant relatives, you’re probably familistic. that’s my thinking, anyway.

looked at the following questions from the 2002 general social survey:

“How often do you contact your uncles/aunts?”
“How often do you contact your nieces/nephews?”
“How often do you contact your cousin(s)?”

the possible answers were:

“More than twice in last 4 weeks.”
“Once or twice in last 4 weeks.”
“Not at all in last 4 weeks.”
“I have no living relative of this type.”

i’ve collapsed the first two together to make the responses sorta “yes” or “no” (contacted x in the last 4 weeks). i also skipping the “no living relative” answer. if you’re dying to see all data, i can post it.

the variables chosen were: COUNTRY OF FAMILY ORIGIN, HOW OFTEN DOES R CONTACT UNCLES OR AUNTS, HOW OFTEN DOES R CONTACT NIECES AND NEPHEWS, HOW OFTEN DOES R CONTACT COUSIN, and for the irish RELIGION IN WHICH RAISED to try to distinguish the scotch-irish from roman catholic irish. none of it is perfect, i know, but you gotta work with whatcha got.

the countries with a good-sized data set (n≧50) were: england & wales (the “anglos” – n=96), italy (n=53-54), scotch-irish (protestant irish – n=51), and germany (n=150). the mexicans (n=32) and irish catholics (n=42-43) came up a little short, but i’ve included them anyway. keep in mind that the numbers for those two groups are kinda low.

without further ado (click on charts for LARGER views)…

“How often do you contact your uncles/aunts?”

“How often do you contact your nieces/nephews?”

“How often do you contact your cousin(s)?”

as you can see, in each of the three categories, all of the other groups are in contact with their distant-ish relatives more than the anglos — except for the scotch-irish who appear to behave the most like the anglos here. mexicans are much more likely to keep in regular contact with their aunts/uncles or nieces/nephews than anglo-americans (53% vs. 32% and 75% vs. 48% respectively), but italian-americans are also much more likely to keep in touch with their aunts/uncles on a monthly basis (47%). the roman catholic irish, too, more familistic than anglo-americans — and even german-americans, except for the keeping-in-touch-with-nieces/nephews category, appear to be more familistic than anglo-americans.

so much for assimilation.

remember that familism goes hand-in-hand with fun things like corruption.

i also think it’s kinda neat to see that the familism goes more in the direction of the genetic flow than not: greater contact by aunts/uncles to nieces/nephews than the reverse, for instance. cool.

previously: anglo-american vs. mexican family values

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anglo-american vs. mexican family values

one of the ways to measure familism — behavioral familism (familism “expressed in everyday actions, or major decisions, informed by one’s attachment to family ties”) — is to find out how much contact the individuals in a given population have with their various family members: brothers, sisters, aunt, uncles, cousins, etc.

so i checked out the 2002 general social survey in which they asked questions like…

how often do you contact your cousin?”

…for the results for people whose family origins came from england or wales (“anglo-americans”) and from mexico. (i dunno how “anglo” some people from wales are, but what can an hbd chick do? gotta work with the data available.) obviously there’s no time depth here: the people with family origins from england — well, their families might’ve come over on the mayflower, or the gss people could’ve been interviewing the derb for all i know! same goes for the mexicans — could be recent immigrants, or fourth generation mexican-americans in new mexico.

unfortunately, the sample sizes for mexicans are on the small side — n=27-32 — so … grain of salt! the numbers for anglo-americans are better: n=80-96. here are the results (blue=anglos, orange=mexicans — click on charts for LARGER views):

Consider your favorite brother or sister – how often do you visit this brother or sister?

on the whole, mexicans are more likely to have more frequent person-to-person contact with their favorite sibling than anglo-americans, although the “daily” score is pretty close. no anglo-americans said that they lived with their favorite sibling, whereas 10% of mexicans in the u.s. said so.

Consider your favorite brother or sister – how often do you contact this brother or sister via telephone or letter? (remember: this is 2002.)

again, the general pattern seems to be more frequent telephone calls/correspondence between mexicans and their favorite sibling than with anglo-americans and theirs. twice as many mexicans responded “less often” than anglo-americans, but maybe ’cause that’s ’cause they actually see their favorite sibling so often. -?-

this pattern of mexicans having more contact with their family members than anglos becomes more pronounced/clearer to see with the more distant family members…

“How often do you contact your uncles/aunts?”

“How often do you contact your nieces/nephews?”

“How often do you contact your cousin(s)?”

now i’m curious to check out other ethnic groups…. (^_^)

previously: hispanic family values

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hispanic family values

lots of conservatives (rinos in particular maybe) like to talk about how great hispanic/mexican family values are, and what a wonderful addition these will be to american society (never mind the sky-high illegitimacy rates in the hispanic community) — but what these so-called conservatives don’t understand is that hispanic/mexican family values are different from our (well, your, if you’re a wasp that is) family values.

it’s called familism (familismono kidding!) — and hispanics/mexicans got it in spades [pg. 314 – pdf]:

Familism can be defined as a social pattern whereby individual interests, decisions, and actions are conditioned by a network of relatives thought in many ways to take priority over the individual. This social pattern manifests itself through three dimensions: (1) the attitudinal, expressed in dispositions, values, and beliefs that prioritize the welfare of the family; (2) the behavioral, expressed in everyday actions, or major decisions, informed by one’s attachment to family ties; and (3) the structural, expressed in the spatial architecture of family networks (Steidel and Contreras 2003; Valenzuela and Dornbusch 1994). Researchers from several disciplines have observed that familism is an important component of Hispanic culture (Okagaki and Frensch 1998; Oyserman, Coon, and Kemmelmeier 2002). At the attitudinal level, Hispanic adults and adolescents value interdependence, as well as family support and obligations, more so than whites (Fuligni, Tseng, and Lam 1999; Harrison et al. 1990; Sabogal et al. 1987). At the behavioral level, Hispanics report higher degrees of familial cohesion and intimacy than whites (Niemann, Romero, and Arbona 2000; Sabogal et al. 1987) and assist family members in instrumental ways more so than whites (Sarkisian, Gerena, and Gerstel 2006). And at the structural level, Hispanics, and Mexican Americans in particular, live in larger and denser kinship networks than whites (Sarkisian et al. 2006; Valenzuela and Dornbusch 1994).”

well, that all sounds great — and it is, in its own way — but what it isn’t is anything like the anglo/anglo-american family tradition which is based upon the nuclear family and the individualism of its members, a societal structure that appears to go right back to the thirteenth century (see also here and here). if someone says to you “hispanic family values,” you should absolutely not picture in your mind june and ward cleaver along with wally and the beav — and, maybe, uncle billy coming over for thanksgiving dinner every other year.

no. hispanic/mexican familism (and, of course, there is a lot of variety here — latin america is a big place) means a lot of extended family — and, for whatever reasons, a lot of extended family obligations. which is also fine — but there are only twenty-four hours in a day, and if you’ve got obligations to your immediate family AND your tío jorge and all his kids, and your tía rosa and all her kids, etc., etc., there’s simply going to be less time in your day to devote to other things like the broader community. as someone who comes from a large clan (52 first cousins!), i know this to be true — there’s just not a whole lot of spare time for anything other than family (except you guys, of course! (~_^) ).

“but won’t hispanics quit being so extended-family oriented once they assimilate to american culture, hbd chick?”

i dunno. and neither does anyone else.

there are some indications that the amount of some aspects of familism is lower among hispanics/mexicans raised in the u.s. than their immigrant parents, but not all aspects — and all of these familism metrics remain higher in hispanic groups than for white americans. (what would be interesting to know is how much familism there is in the new mexican hispanic population. i couldn’t find anything on that anywhere — might try to dig some data up from the gss myself….)

i’m of the opinion that the development of strong feelings towards one’s extended family (or not) is a question of evolution, so changing those feelings, afaics, ought to take some time. the english (see links above or the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column) have had a loooong history of individualism and nuclear families, a process which started, i think, in the early medieval period with the bans on cousin marriage by the roman catholic church. mexicans, and other hispanics, have had a very different evolutionary history when it comes to family feelings and cohesiveness.

the colonial mayans, for instance, had close, endogamous mating patterns — and they lived in extended-family settlements, just as their pre-columbian ancestors had done, indicating that extended-family-ness in mayan society goes way back [pgs. 368-369]:

“[T]he Mayas divided up house-plots or treated contiguous plots as one so that what might have officially been nuclear families living on separate house-plots were really multiple-residence extended-family household complexes. Not only have such patterns of residential clustering survived to the present in much of Mexico, but they have been observed by archaeologists for a number of pre-Columbian Maya sites — most notably Coba, Dzibilchaltun, K’axob, Mayapan, and Tikal….

“[A] typical grandfamily household might occupy adjacent house-plots and its member frequent the neighboring plots of related households of the same patronym-group or alliance of patronym-groups.

“The free movement of family members and animals between plots symbolized the blurred lines between separate and joint…. To avoid cutting up parcels of land … Mayas made use of the parallel principle of multial, ‘joint ownership.’ Typically then, a plot of land was placed in the hands of a representative of the household or, in the cases of large cultivated plots, the patronym-group….

“Because those household members who lived on or from a plot of land were in some sense considered its joint owners, family members effectively held shares in such property, which they then left to successive generations.”

the spanish tried to break down these extended family units by forcing the natives to register their houses/lands according to nuclear family units (eg. one house with a certain amount of acreage connected to it), but as restall describes above, the maya simply worked around these bureaucratic nuisances. what needed to be done, of course, was to ban close marriages in the new world — but that was too much of an imposition on all those potential new world recruits that the church so desperately wanted to harvest, so they gave much of latin america a (beyond first cousin) cousin marriage dispensation in 1537 (including mexico, i think, but i do need to double-check that).

aztec society was structured quite differently from that of the maya, but from what i understand (so far) about the aztecs, extended families and “clans” (calpulli) were also very important there. (i’ll get back to you on aztec society when i get through reading more about them!)

in any case, hispanics/mexicans are still devoted to their extended families. not that there’s anything wrong with that! except that familism does tend to go along with some other, undesirable societal features like corruption (see lipset and lenz) — fyi, mexico ranked #100 in transparency international’s 2011 survey.

true conservatives would hold off on inviting tens of millions of people from a very differently behaving population into this country — at least until we understood something of why the behaviors differed.

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans

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