Presenter: Vikki Katz
Time: Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 12pm – 1:30pm
Location: Room 1631, Hunter West, Hunter College, 695 Park Ave., New York, NY 10065
In this talk, I explore the relationship between media and immigrant family life from multiple perspectives. I examine how media play “orientation” functions for immigrants in their adopted communities, teaching them about their new environments and helping them locate local goods and resources they need. Media also play “connective” functions, keeping immigrants up to date with events and issues from their country of origin. Media most likely to serve these dual functions are ethnic media, which are created by and for immigrant populations. These media range in size from local mom-and-pop outlets, to national or transnational operations. Ethnic media are often better positioned to enable immigrants’ integration efforts than mainstream media, because their focus on a specific market makes them more responsive to immigrants’ specific needs and concerns.
Ethnic media are, of course, not the only part of the media landscape that immigrants encounter in the United States. Mainstream media and digital technologies (e.g. Internet, smartphones) may be difficult for new immigrants to connect with, particularly if they are not proficient in English. Their children often broker parents’ media connections that would otherwise not be possible because parents lack the requisite familiarities with English, U.S. cultural norms and references, and/or media literacy. Parents and children work together to define family needs (e.g., finding a doctor) and make sense of media content that helps address those needs. Drawing on qualitative observations of families, I will address how these collaborative activities can simultaneously foster “internal integration” (i.e., families’ efforts to maintain their internal unity) and “external integration” (i.e., families’ social and cultural adaptation into the settlement community).
Vikki Katz is an assistant professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University. She is author of Kids in the Middle: How Children of Immigrants Negotiate Community Interactions for their Families (Rutgers U Press, 2014) and co-author of Understanding Ethnic Media: Producers, Consumers, and Societies (Sage Publications, 2011). Her current investigation into broadband and technology adoption decisions in low-income immigrant families is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. You can learn more about her work at: www.vikkikatz.com