Gender Related Social Groups

West Indian Americans experience a widening of social groups in comparison with the groups they negotiated back home. Legally married West Indian American couples find that whether they live near the husband's family or the wife's family is dictated by which spouse had preexisting kinship networks in America. The common practice of serial migration, whereby one or more family members predate the migration of the remainder of the family and prepare economically to send for remaining members, results in families being split up, in some cases for years. Since women outnumber men both in numbers who migrate and in labor-force participation in the current wave of West Indian immigration, it is often members of the wife's family who are already established in the United States. Therefore, matrilineal kin groups are often utilized by immigrants. In the Caribbean, where female single-headed households prevail (Waters, 1999, p. 204), children are often raised within matrilineal kinship groups.

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