Drawing on theorizing on acculturative stress and conservation of resource views of stress as organizing frameworks, this chapter presents original qualitative date from 79 interviews conducted with low income Latino migrant farm working mothers from five camps in Michigan in the U.S.

“Drawing from theorizing on acculturative stress (Berry, 1987; In Press: Bhagat & London, 1999) and managing stress through conservation of resources (Hobfoll, 1989) as organizing frameworks, the goal of this chapter is to present an original case study of the unique cultural and work and family stresses facing the U.S. Midwestern Latino migrant farm worker. Rosa and Juan, who are from the low skilled immigrant group, typified the families we studied. We begin by providing brief background on U.S. Midwestern Latino migrant workers. The comprehensive social and cultural issues examined may be relevant to other countries that depend on low skill immigrants in their labor markets, as well as to researchers conducting international and cross-cultural research on the work and family interface. For example, every year, a phenomenon similar to U.S. migrant stream occurs in Europe as Eastern-European workers migrate throughout Europe to harvest crops” (p. 4). (Abstractor: Author).

Full Publication Title: U.S. Latino Migrant Farm Workers:  Managing Acculturative Stress and Conserving Work-Family Resources


Major Findings & Recommendations

Cyclical mobility creates temporary social systems and forces families to have to manage constant transitions and risk factors emanating from the lack of social stability. This mobility creates a physical isolation that supports a marginalization acculturation strategy as a means to manage stress. (A marginalization acculturation strategy can be defined as when individuals reject both their culture of origin and the dominant host culture). This also feeds into language and cultural constraints that inhibit and stall future social prospects. Thus, migrant workers are a minority within a minority. More research is needed to develop measures that tap into the resources, demands, and constraints identified, and to assess possible stress buffers and identify resilience factors. The chapter highlights the need for more research to countervail migrant stereotypes that support discrimination and the inability to fully tap social services and manage employer relations. For example, despite prevailing stereotypes, we found that most migrant families did not necessarily return to Mexico. Many migrant workers see leaving agriculture and the migrant lifestyle as the main ways to move out of poverty. Increasingly, migrant workers may well live in the U.S. all year, although they may still have family in Mexico and visit. Another misconception is that migrant farmers keep moving all season --- instead most of these families stay in one place for the whole season and work in different crops as the season progresses. Our migrant families were atypical poor and had characteristics challenging many existing assumptions in the current research on families living in poverty. Many poor mothers are single -- and we presume (and research shows us) that having a partner would make life easier. But these are two-parent families, struggling. More research is needed on how to overcome the barriers of mobility and transience and need to better link to educational and cultural systems as a way to accumulate social and human capital and improve the integration of these families” (pp. 16 & 17).