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Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family

Communication, Identity, and Difference


Edited By Jordan Soliz and Colleen Warner Colaner

Despite growing recognition of the diversity of family forms and structures, discourses among family scholars and practitioners as well as in popular culture continue to operate from the assumption that families are fairly homogeneous in terms of the values and beliefs, social positions, and identities of individual family members. Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family provides a unique and important perspective on how communication within and about families related to issues of identity and difference can ameliorate negative processes and, at times, potentially amplify positive outcomes such as well-being and relational solidarity. Chapters in this edited volume focus on divergent social identities in the family (e.g., interfaith families, multiethnic-racial families, acculturation and immigration) as well as differences emerging from family formative processes (e.g., stepfamilies, in-law relationships, foster care). In addition to synthesizing the current state of the scholarship in these particular family contexts, each chapter discusses the interplay between families and the larger social and cultural context. For instance, how does grandparent-grandchild communication influence attitudes toward older adults and aging? Can we improve interfaith dialogue in larger societal interactions by understanding communication in interfaith families? How do ideologies of social class and social discourses about adoption and foster care influence family functioning? Chapters conclude with a discussion on implications for scholars and family practitioners. The edited volume would make an ideal primary or secondary required text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses on families as well as specialized family courses on understudied family relationships and forms. The volume also serves as an important resource for family scholars and practitioners.

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7. Immigration and Family Communication: Resilience, Solidarity, and Thriving (Jennifer A. Kam, Roselia Mendez Murillo, and Monica Cornejo)


7. Immigration and Family Communication: Resilience, Solidarity, and Thriving

Jennifer A. Kam, Roselia Mendez Murillo, and Monica Cornejo

In 2017, the UN Population Division estimated that the world consisted of 258 million people (3.4% of the world’s population) who were born outside their country of residence (i.e., foreign born) or who did not have citizenship in their country of residence (MPI, 2017b). Clearly, immigration is a worldwide experience, but a close look at the United States, in particular, also reveals that the nation is largely made up of immigrants. With respect to recent immigrants, the Pew Research Center reported that in 2017 the United States consisted of approximately 43.7 million immigrants in 2016, “accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants in 2016” and approximately 13.5% of the U.S. population (López, Bialik, & Radford, 2018, para #1). Thus, immigrants form a significant portion of the U.S. population. When we focus on immigrant families, 18 million children (i.e., 17 years old or younger) live in a household with at least one immigrant parent—that is 26% of the 70 million children who reside in the United States (Zong, Batalova, & Hallock, 2018).

In popular press and academic writing, the term, immigration, can refer to voluntarily relocating to another country to seek better opportunities (Ogbu & Simons, 1998). Voluntary immigration is distinct from involuntary immigration, the latter of which refers to being forced to leave one’s country to avoid, for example, a crisis, “war, persecution,...

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