AOC: Social Dynamics in Response to Shifting Immigration Policy and Practice: Latino Social Networks, Resource Flow, and Household Reorganization

  • Glick, Jennifer Elyse (PI)
  • Brewis, Alexandra (CoPI)
  • Chowell-puente, Gerardo G. (CoPI)
  • Wutich, Amber Y. (CoPI)
  • Szkupinski Quiroga, Seline (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Immigration is a major area of concern shaping contemporary policy, practice and debate in the United States. As a large scale agent of change, shifts in policy and perceptions concerning immigrants ripple through social networks, affecting household arrangements and resources that impact not only individuals, but families and whole communities. These impacts are felt by immigrants, naturalized citizens and natives who share the same communities, households and families. Recent research suggests that social networks among the urban poor can be eroded by macro-level economic and political uncertainty and instability, but comparatively little is known about how this process unfolds. Clear scientific evidence demonstrating how people are affected by such policy shifts can provide evidence for developing immigration-related policy and practice with fewer negative unintended consequences. With backgrounds in sociology, anthropology, human biology, geography and demography, the project team examined Latino households with at least one Spanish-speaking adult in south Phoenix, Arizona. Households were recruited by partnering with Latino community educators who are well-established in the area. Field interviews were conducted by bilingual students at Arizona State University. Using a range of tools and methods, including social network analysis and mathematical modeling, researchers determined if and how the households reorganized in response to changing immigration policy and practice. The study examined the social networks that link household members to each other and larger networks, and model the implications of this for the resource flows to household members and ultimately for household resiliency and the well-being of family members. Agent-based models were then applied to examine the potential impact of future large-scale shifts in immigration perceptions and policies.

By focusing on the mechanism of social networks?as the framework in which decisions concerning resource flows are made, played out, and constrained?the study empirically ties well-being of household members to social policy shifts outside the household in new and more explicit ways. The project?s unique approach to data construction makes it possible to clarify the potential for changes in immigration enforcement or employer sanction laws to impact individuals who may or may not be directly targeted by these policies. At the local level, the data, findings, and related outreach activities will contribute to the development of research capacities within the target community and raise public awareness. Research findings, such as determining which factors enhance household stability and how social networks can be leveraged to move limited resources where they are most needed, were shared with local stakeholders to support their goals of building healthy communities.

Effective start/end date10/1/089/30/13


  • National Science Foundation: $752,249.00


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