Finding Community: Immigrant and Native-Born Mothers’ Perceptions of Support Networks
Catharine H. Warner, University of Maryland
Despite much research on positive outcomes associated with strong immigrant social networks, little analysis addresses socio-demographic and contextual factors affecting the strength of social networks. Indeed, although research reveals strong immigrant networks, few make explicit native- and foreign-born comparisons. This study uses a nationally representative sample to understand major influences on perceived social support among foreign- and native-born mothers in the United States. Several questions are addressed. Do perceptions of support differ between native- and foreign-born mothers and why? Are race and class more important than nativity? Are neighborhoods and schools central contextual factors? Preliminary results suggest that immigrant mothers perceive less support than native-born mothers. However, socioeconomic status, defined by income, education, and language ability, reduced the effects of nativity by half. Results suggest that economic incorporation is an important factor determining perceptions of support, as are neighborhood characteristics. This research informs the contextual factors that privilege perceptions of support.