Theses Doctoral

Intimate Negotiations: The Political Economy of Gender, Sex, and Family among Mexican Immigrants in New York City

Pelto, Debra Jane

This ethnographic project examines sexual communication and negotiation in the context of the political economy of migration. Using participant observation as well as in-depth and life history interviews and secondary sources, the research goals are to explicate the meanings and practices related to gender and sexuality among the transnational population of mid-life heterosexual Mexicans in New York; map ideologies and practices regarding family size and family planning, including histories of negotiation within the context of relationships and couples, embedded within processes of sexual socialization and historical-political-economic structures in the selected population; map experiences with accessing health care services, in the context of this community of low-wage, undocumented, uninsured workers; and explicate the relationships between gender, sexuality, reproduction, parenthood, and labor migration, within the political economy of Mexican migration to New York. The research population consists of Mexican-born women and men in Queens, New York City, ages twenty-two to forty-five. This project aims to contribute to our understanding of how culture changes through interactions between agents and structures; to contribute to an area of sexuality research that has received insufficient attention, which intersects the fields of gender, migration, demography, and health; to increase our understanding of sexual communication among mid-life cohabiting adult migrants; to identify gaps between service needs and utilization; and to offer suggestions on how to improve health programs and services for this emerging immigrant population.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Pelto_columbia_0054D_10559.pdf Pelto_columbia_0054D_10559.pdf application/pdf 1.88 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Parker, Richard G.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 15, 2014