Family and ethnicity

TitleFamily and ethnicity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsMenkis, R, Ungerleider, CS
JournalCanadian Ethnic Studies
ISBN Number0008-3496
KeywordsEthnicity, Families &amp, family life

It has been tempting to examine ethnicity and multiculturalism in relation to large societal issues: ethnicity and inequality; ethnicity and education; multiculturalism and immigration; multiculturalism and the state. All too often this perspective has made ethnici ty and multiculturalism subjects of study at arm's length, too abstract or too broad in perspective to express the immediacy of ethnic identity or the impact of prejudice. In 1991 th e editorial board of this journal examined ethnicity "from below" in a special issue of Canadian E thnic Studies (23,3) devoted to popular culture and ethnicity. In this special issue we are a lso examining multiculturalism and ethnicity as a more tangible issue by focusing on the famil y. Changes in the family, and the reasons for them, are multiple and complex. In addition to the aforementioned changes, for example, feminists, gays, and lesbians challenge the mid - twentieth century definition of the family. Whatever these changes or the reaso ns for them, one issue is clear: Since the family is the social form that has had the greatest i mpact on socialization and the creation of identity – including ethnic identity – the t ransformation of the family has meant and will continue to mean a transformation in ethnic identity a nd loyalty. This is the focus of this special issue of Canadian Ethnic Studies. These papers hav e been drawn from the papers presented at the 1993 biennial conference of the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association hosted by The University of British Columbia. One unfortunate conse quence of the decision to focus on the family is that papers devoted to other topics and issue s could not be published in this special issue in spite of their evident quality. Arruda's examination of growing up in Portuguese - Canadian families betwee n 1962 and 1980 is similar in some ways to Sintonen's examination of the Finns. He uses in terviews with seventeen adult Portuguese - Canadians to harvest memories of their adolescence, showing the complex interplay of family, work, friendship, religion and courtship. Despite the size of the small sample Arruda shows the fluidity of ethnic boundaries, challenging the lit erature portraying a more monolithic view of the adolescent experience of Portuguese - Canadians.