Do migrants remit democratic beliefs and behaviors? : a theory of migrant-led international diffusion




Pérez-Armendáriz, Clarisa

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



How do migrants from Mexico to the U.S., including those who return permanently to Mexico and those who engage in cross-border communication from the U.S., contribute to changes in the political attitudes and behavior of Mexicans living in Mexico? Individuals who return to Mexico after experiencing U.S. democracy directly are less likely to influence change among their non-migrant co-nationals than are migrants who remain in the U.S. This holds even though the former can share their experiences face-to-face, while the latter must transmit them from a distance and across the border. Non-migrants' propensity to learn foreign political practices and beliefs from migrants is conditioned by their ambivalent attitudes towards the U.S. These attitudes condition both migrants' willingness to share the forms of civic engagement they learned up north and non-migrants' receptivity. Non-migrants are more receptive to migrants who remain in the U.S. than to returnees because they have a higher esteem for them and because the long-distance ties that bind non-migrants to migrants abroad, as opposed to those back home, are stronger. Both types of migrants have an interest in sharing their new beliefs and behaviors with non-migrants; but while returnees struggle to accept adaptations of American-style practices to the Mexican context, this produces little inconvenience for migrants abroad. The anti-American attitudes returnees find in Mexico also dampen their efforts to introduce change. I employ statistical regressions, Qualitative Comparative Analysis and process tracing to evaluate two data sources: (1) a large-n database that draws from an original survey administered on a nationwide sample of Mexican citizens living in Mexico; and, (2) scores of interviews with migrants and the people in Mexico with whom they communicate. The statistical results indicate the outcomes that migrant-led international diffusion produces. The qualitative analysis explains the mechanisms that drive or constrain diffusion. The project applies theories of international diffusion to change occurring among individuals at the level of mass publics. It highlights the importance of intersubjective beliefs about the sources of foreign innovations--including both people and countries--in shaping diffusion processes.




LCSH Subject Headings