Theory of Multi-Tiered Membership
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This project examines the ways in which new members experience political socialization in a new nation, focusing primarily on the process experienced by adult Mexican immigrants. The theory of multi-tiered membership captures the complex development of informal and formal membership. Informal membership captures the attitudinal characteristics, including internal resource and knowledge building, and political identity and interest formation. Formal membership captures the structural status and contact experienced by new members. Both develop and create the dynamics of multi-tiered membership. This study explores the way in which an immigrant utilizes their available resources to acquire membership through political socialization in their new nation. I use qualitative and quantitative methods to examine three mechanisms of socialization for the immigrant: the skills and resources immigrants acquire prior to migration through their home nation socialization, their family in the new nation, and their access to and interactions with educational institutions in the new nation. Home country socialization and new country re-socialization interact to create a new way for membership to develop. Adult immigrants revisit two mechanisms of political socialization--family and educational institutions--but within the new nation context. I argue that political socialization for adult Mexican immigrants, and their descendants, is distinct in the directionality and relationships between the immigrant and their family, and the immigrant and educational institutions. These relationships are altered to reflect the experience of migration. Family dynamics incorporate parallel socialization between immigrant parents and children and the traditional `top down' parent to child socialization, as well as important spousal dynamics, expanding the boundaries of family within the political socialization framework. Moreover, educational institutions provide direct socialization for immigrants who engage them as students themselves, but also indirectly through the exposure they receive from engaging such institutions as parents of students. Meanwhile, the immigrant's pre-migration experiences act as scaffolding for this new political socialization, providing the foundation upon which experiences through the family and educational institutions in the new nation are built. Together, these experiences come together to shape the immigrant's informal and formal membership development in the multi-tiered membership process.
- Political science