The enactment of relational maintenance when Guatemalan parents are forcibly separated from their families due to deportation

Carmen R. Valdez, Karen E. Schlag, Anita L. Vangelisti, Brian Padilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines how parents deported to Guatemala from the United States (U.S.) use relational maintenance strategies to preserve relationships with their family living in the U.S. In a context of forced separation where family reunification is severely constrained, this study considers economic, social, and cultural impacts on individuals’ abilities to engage in relational maintenance. Interviews conducted in Guatemala with parents having previously been deported from the U.S. were coded and analyzed using contextualist thematic analysis. Findings revealed that relational maintenance is crucial to family preservation, with parents relying on assurances, positivity, advice-giving, and social networks to maintain a sense of relational continuity and their own position of influence within the family. Parents faced barriers to enacting strategies of shared tasks, openness, and conflict management. The implications and limitations of the study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-90
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2024

Keywords

  • Deportation
  • Latinx/Hispanic/immigrant
  • family communication
  • family separation
  • relational maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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