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Transnational Behavior in Comparative Perspective

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This paper examines transnationalism across migrant generational statuses in three urban centers. The objective of this study is to explore how immigrant integration influences the maintenance of social and economic connections with the communities-of-origin. To accomplish this objective we examine the impact of socio-economic status and generational status (first to third) on whether respondents remit, visit their communities-of-origin, or desire to return. The data for this study is based on survey data collected in New York City, New York, U.S.A.;El Paso, Texas, U.S.A.;and Paris, France. We find that transnational practices differ across the three locations. In Paris we find evidence of reactive transnationalism — looking abroad due to exclusion in the new society. In New York, however, there is more support for resource-based transnationalism — better legal and socioeconomic integration that allows for more transnational involvement. Transnationalism in El Paso differs from NYC and Paris in large part due to being located along the U.S.-Mexico border. Surprisingly, we find that El Paso respondents are less transnational than those in Paris or New York when it comes to remittances, visiting, and the desire to return to the sending community. We conclude by proposing a new typology of transnationalism that accentuates the contextual aspects of these practices.


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Correspondence to Ernesto Castañeda.

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  • migrant transnationalism
  • reactive transnationalism
  • remittances
  • third generation
  • incorporation