Date of Award

12-1997

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Doug Davidson

Second Advisor

Dr. Tom VanValey

Third Advisor

Dr. Art Helweg

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

The focus of this study was to look at the Latvian population in Southwest Michigan utilizing the transnational theoretical framework. Transnationalism examines the three-way relationship between the migrant, home community (Latvia), and host community (United States). First and second generation Latvian-Americans were interviewed to assess the nature of their transnational activities with regard to economics, politics, family ties, communication, and organizational membership.

The data were collected through the use of in-depth interviewing. Both an interview protocol and demographic survey were utilized. A total of 16 adult Latvian-Americans (N = 16) were interviewed. Eight were first generation Latvian-Americans (N = 8), and 8 were second generation Latvian-Americans (N = 8).

The findings of this study indicate that both first and second generation Latvian-Americans engage in transnational activities, though the second generation Latvian-Americans to a lesser degree. Both groups remit economic assistance to relatives and organizations in Latvia. Politics have played an important role in keeping the Latvian community united. Latvian culture, particularly the language, is passed down from generation to generation. Technological advances have increased communication with friends and relatives in Latvia. Second generation Latvian-Americans with business ties in Latvia may be the new transnationals utilizing their education and cultural heritage for economic gain.

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