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Various theories have attempted to explain the persistence of occupational segregation, the pattern whereby women or members of racial groups are concentrated in particular occupations, industries, or jobs within firms (Reskin 1984; Blaxall and Reagan 1976; Stromberg and Harkess 1978). Neoclassical economic theories attribute job segregation to imperfections in competitive labor markets and to exogenous factors such as sexism or racial prejudice by individual employers or in schools that produce workers with less “human capital.” Proponents of the neoclassical view argue that if women or minorities would get enough education, skills, or training, they could eventually have equal participation in the labor market. Labor-market-segmentation theory criticizes this view, claiming that the structure of labor markets discriminates against certain groups and that employers encourage racial or gender antagonisms. Feminist scholars are also concerned with discrimination in the labor market, but they view the behavior of men—whether they are employers, workers, or union members—or specific firm practices as playing key roles in excluding women from better-paying jobs or training programs that would provided the necessary skills for promotions (Hartmann 1979; Milkman 1976, 1982; Blau 1984; Strober 1984; Kan ter 1977; Roos and Reskin 1984). Other feminist theorists examine sex-role socialization or segregation in schools or training programs that orient or prepare women for certain occupations (Marini and Brin ton 1984). The pervasiveness and complexity of occupational segregation suggests that many factors contribute to the perpetuation of Women’s inferior position in the labor market (Oppenheim Mason 1984).1

Recent feminist scholarship has been concerned with how Women’s labor-force participation and family obligations are connected in ways that distinguish women from men workers. As paid workers, women are subject to the same economic forces as men. Yet precisely because of their female status, women are concentrated in lower-waged “women’s jobs”—occupations in which more than 70 percent of the workers are female (Oppenheimer 1970; Blau 1975). In addition, women bear the burden of responsibility for private household tasks beyond their labor for wages. Women, then, are simultaneously wage workers, women workers, and family members. The relationship between Women’s wage labor and “private” domestic labor is obscured under capitalism (Zaretsky 1976) and comprises two major processes: the family’s influence on female labor-force participation and the effect of wage work on women’s roles within the families. Elizabeth Pleck (1976) has suggested that women’s work and family are really “two worlds in one,” and recent scholarship shows the ways in which women combine work and family responsibilities have varied historically and regionally (Safilios-Rothschild 1976; Kamerman 1979; Tilly and Scott 1978; Smith 1982; Kessler-Harris 1982; Fernández-Kelly 1983; Lamphere 1987).

Previous research on Chicana workers has focused on working conditions or on how women’s employment affects their families but has not addressed the two-way relationship between women’s work and family (an exception is González 1983).2 In the following pages, I show how revisionist works on Chicano families have ignored the world of work, and I illustrate a perspective that would connect Chicanas’ work and family lives. Socialist feminist theory is a useful point of departure in analyzing the conditions of Chicana cannery workers because it directs analysis to who benefits from women’s labor and the mechanisms that create job hierarchies excluding women, and it focuses on conflict in social relations.3

Linking Women’s Domestic and Wage Labor

Socialist feminist theorists (Milkman 1976; Hartmann 1981b; Eisenstein 1979; Kuhn and Wolpe 1978) have argued that capitalist relations in the public sphere and patriarchal family relations are linked. Capitalist patriarchy is a system in which the control of wage labor by capital and men’s control over women’s labor power and sexuality in the home are connected. In the labor market, job segregation is the primary mechanism maintaining the domination of men over women, for example, in enforcing lower wages for women. Women’s labor-market activities are restricted through the bearing and rearing of children and men’s efforts to control home life. Therefore, we must examine the relationship of women to men in both the labor market and families. Heidi Hartmann has stated: “Patriarchy, by establishing and legitimating hierarchy among men (by allowing men of all groups to control at least some women), reinforces capitalist control, and capitalist values shape the definition of patriarchal good” (1981b:27–28).

According to this socialist feminist argument, the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy contains an inherent contradiction: capitalists and husbands have competing interests in women’s labor. In different historical periods, capitalists have preferred either that women enter the labor market (during World War II) or that they return to homemaking (immediately after World War II). In all periods, husbands have been interested in personal and family service. Hartmann (1979) has suggested that the “family wage’’ provided a resolution to this conflict. The family wage, which working men won in nineteenth-century struggles with capital, insured that men were paid wages high enough to support a family. Labor organizations guilds and later unions—were crucial in limiting Women’s participation in the labor market. Unions often excluded women from training programs and generally supported protective legislation that denied women access to difficult “male” jobs (Milkman 1976,1982; Hartmann 1979). The rationale for the family wage was the ideology of women’s “proper place”—the notion that women are moral guardians of the home and therefore should not enter the labor force (Welter 1973; Ehrenreich and English 1975; Milkman 1982). Thus the family wage secures the material basis of male domination and ensures Women’s economic dependence. Womens family responsibilities—housework, child care, consumption, and emotional nurturance, which benefit individual men—also reinforce women’s inferior labor-market position since it is assumed that women lack commitment to paid employment.

Socialist feminism also identifies inherent contradictions within families. Families are seen to be structured by gender and age, and this socially constructed “sex-gender system” changes over time (Rubin 1975; Thorne 1982). The gender and age of family members affects the family as an economic unit. As family members pool income and share resources such as housing or job benefits, common interests and interdependence are created. Yet women and men participate in the labor market differently, and these experiences also affect families. The domestic division of labor—who does the chores and the time spent doing them—reveals the amount of men’s control over women’s labor.4 The family is the locus of political struggle, for men do not voluntarily give up their domestic privileges. Societal contradictions, then, bring conflict to families, and family members must adapt.

Family ideology—the assumptions about proper men’s and women’s roles—most often supports the segregation of women in the labor market. In Western culture, the family is regarded symbolically in opposition to the public world of work (Collier, Rosaldo, and Yanagisako 1982). Families are seen as havens, providing nurturance for struggles in the labor market. Ideally, families are governed by feelings and moial values and form relationships that endure the vicissitudes of outside circumstances. The world of work is viewed as competitive, impersonal, temporary, contingent upon performance; in it, morality must be buttressed by law and legal sanctions. According to this ideology, families should be nuclear in composition, and women and men should marry for love rather than economic reasons (Rapp 1978). Within this view, “the concept of family is a socially necessary illusion which simultaneously expresses and masks recruitment to relationships of production, reproduction, and consumption” (Rapp 1982:170). According to this ideology, traditionally, men are breadwinners, whereas women are supposed to sacrifice their careers and minister to family needs, especially those of children.5 This opposition of family and work posits a contradiction between Women’s (and men’s) needs as individuals and the concerns of their families. This ideology is supported by institutions—schools, churches, media, and unions—in which women are socialized to defer to men. Family ideology serves dual purposes: It masks Women’s multiple statuses by defining women as secondary workers—women who work to supplement family income—and it rationalizes Women’s subordination in the labor force since women perform “women’s work.” At the same time, housework is devalued as not being “work,” and thus the double day of women is discounted.

Socialist feminism is a useful starting point in analyzing change and stability in Chicano families since these families are subject to the same political and economic forces as other families. Yet Chicanos differ considerably from other groups in how women and men have participated in the labor market.6 Chicanos face racism in its various manifestations in the labor market. They accept certain American values and beliefs, yet have a culturally specific version of family ideology. The distinct history of the Chicano people has created important differences in how Chicanos and Chicanas have participated in regional labor markets. The following discussion of Chicana labor history illustrates how a socialist feminist perspective must be modified to interpret the lives of Chicana workers.

Chicana Labor History

The particular process of incorporation of the southwestern United States (originally northern Mexico) into the capitalist world economy was critical for the development of a Chicano working class (Almaguer 1981; Borrego 1983). The conquest of the “new world” by Spain in the sixteenth century brought gold and silver to the Spanish state and fueled primitive capitalist accumulation (Chapa 1981). Almaguer (1975) has shown that in the feudal society of colonial Mexico, the class structure was based on a racial hierarchy as well: Spaniards (usually male) who were born in Spain or in Mexico (the criollos) held the positions of power, authority, and status, while Indians, Blacks, and “mixed races” (mestizos, mulatos, zambos) labored for the white landowners.7 As Mexico colonized what is now the American Southwest, these class and race categories were brought north and became the basis of class and racial stratification in the United States.

The U. S.- Mexico war of 1846–48 was instigated to further capitalist development in the Southwest (Barrera 1979; Borrego 1983). After this war, in which Mexico lost one-third of its territory to the United States, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo guaranteed certain rights to the Mexican citizens who lived in the annexed territory. Mexicans had the right to choose American or Mexican citizenship and to retain their property “without their being subjected to any contribution, tax or charge whatever” (Valdez and Steiner 1972:102). During the late nineteenth century, however, capitalist transformation of the region brought many changes for Chicanos. The United States was industrializing, while the Southwest was becoming a center of agriculture and mining. Chicanos were displaced from their land. They lost landholdings to Anglos either through legal means, such as their inability to pay taxes, or through fraud, such as the infamous “Santa Fe Ring” in which Anglo businessmen conspired to take over Mexican-owned land (Barrera 1979; Acuña 1981). Mexicans increasingly were proletarianized and incorporated into the burgeoning Southwest labor markets, serving as reserve labor pools. During this period, “Mexicans experienced downward occupational mobility, job displacement and entrapment in the lowest levels of the occupational structure throughout the region” (Almaguer and Camarillo 1983:6). The class structure institutionalized racial domination. These processes plagued the Mexican-American population for decades.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Chicanos labored in developing the infrastructure of roads and railroads connecting the Southwest to the East Coast. Significant numbers of Chicanos worked in the mining and agricultural industries, especially after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In the late nineteenth century in southern California, Chicano sheepherders and vaqueros had to migrate in search of work that would use their traditional pastoral skills; women were forced to work as domestics or in canneries and packing sheds to support their families. These Chicana wives entered the local labor market even before their husbands did (Camarillo 1979).

It was common throughout the late nineteenth century for Chicano men to be paid lower wages than Anglo men for the same work or to receive lower wages because they worked in “Mexican jobs” (Barrera 1979).8 Urban Chicano workers were segregated into older areas of cities, which had cheaper but dilapidated housing. These workers were often forced to abandon Mexican customs and practices and to speak in English. Chicanos were also subject to exclusion from local political processes through various practices (Camarillo 1979; M. García 1981). These changes—proletarianization, occupational and residential segregation, cultural repression, and exclusion from political participation—characterized Chicano history through the early twentieth century, especially in California and Texas (Camarillo 1979; Montejano 1981).

After the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, the first wave of Mexican immigrants entered the United States, fleeing the instability in Mexico. This migration involved “class and cultural transitions from a peasant class with a feudal patriarchal culture of Mexico to the working class and capitalist culture of the U.S.” (González 1983:59)9 Mexican immigration to the Southwest contrasts with other immigrant histories of the time in an important way: rather than being solitary male immigrants, Mexican workers often brought their families with them. This was in part because the Santa Fe railroad line encouraged the migration of Mexican families to provide a stabilizing force on male workers. The fact that Mexico is on the U.S. border meant that it was easier for Chicano workers to bring their families to live near their places of work.10 “Greaser towns,” as they were called by Anglos, sprang up around various mines, and barrios grew on the “other side of the tracks. ” In contrast to Japanese and Filipino farm workers, Chicano farm workers often worked as families, and women and children labored alongside the men in the fields. Farm-worker families were forced to migrate thousands of miles in search of “la pisca”—the harvest.11

The use of wage differentials based on race and sex was common throughout the Southwest and continued into the twentieth century (Barrera 1979). Chicana workers, especially in border towns, were victimized by the payment of lower wages than Anglo women received for the same work (M. García 1981). Chicana urban workers experienced poor working conditions and miserable wages as domestics and laundresses (M. García 1981) and as workers in the food-processing industries (Ruiz 1982) and in Los Angeles factories (Taylor 1980).

With the high unemployment rate of the Great Depression, Mexican labor became regarded as superfluous. Thousands of Mexicans and their American-born children were deported or pressured to repatriate (Hoffman 1974). Before 1950, 90 percent of all Chicanos resided in the Southwest, and Chicano workers were characterized by seasonal labor migration. After World War II Chicanos began urbanizing, primarily because of declining demand for farm labor due to mechanization. By 1980 about 20 percent of all Chicanos resided outside of the Southwest (Tienda 1983:153).

Chicanos and Chicanas participated in strikes and attempted to unionize in various industries. One of the major struggles of Chicano workers was over racist exclusion and unwillingness to organize Mexican workers by the labor movement (Arroyo 1975). In some cases, such as the Oxnard strike of 1903, Mexicans and members of other racial groups (Japanese and Filipinos) joined in solidarity to gain union recognition (Almaguer 1984). In other instances, Chicanos or Mexican immigrants were used as strikebreakers against Anglo workers (McWilliams 1949; Barrera 1979; Rosales and Simon 1975).12

The Mexican Bracero Program (1942–64) brought Mexican contract laborers to the United States to work in agribusiness and some industries. Wage rates and working conditions were negotiated by the U.S. and Mexican states. Agricultural organizing was virtually impossible until this program was repealed (Galarza 1964, 1977). The United Farm Workers, which eventually won union recognition for California’s farm workers, made a concerted effort to include all family members in union activities (Thomas and Friedland 1982).

Because of occupational segregation, unionizing attempts have usually been segregated by sex and race.13 For example, the CIO-affiliated Union of Cannery, Agricultural and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA) separately organized women and men and different racial groups (Ruiz 1982). Immigration status has also been used to divide workers, and Chicanas and Mexican immigrant women have had to contend with bosses calling the Immigration and Naturalization Service to deport union sympathizers (Vázquez 1980; Mora 1981). Yet women have had their share of victories in labor struggles. A prolonged copper strike in New Mexico, immortalized in the classic film Salt of the Earth, was saved by Chicana housewives. Although the men initially refused the Women’s help, they later became convinced of the need for men and women to struggle together against the bosses (Wilson and Rosenfelt 1978). Oral histories of the Farah clothing-maker strikers indicate that Chicanas gained a new sense of self-worth through the strike activities, which enabled them to challenge paternalism by their husbands (Coyle, Hershatter, and Honig, 1980).

There are several theoretical points to be made regarding this overview of Chicana labor history. The most important is that Chicanos have remained in the bottom strata of the working class for more than a century. For example, using data from the National Chicano Survey, Tomás Almaguer and Carlos Arce (1984) estimated that approximately 78 percent of Chicano workers have working-class occupations, compared with 55 percent of the Anglos. Wages have differed significantly between Anglos and Chicanos. In addition, Chicano men have generally received higher wages than Chicanas (Segura 1984; Ruiz 1984). Yet Chícanos have to contend with wages among men that are often less than a “family wage.” Chicano men continue to receive lower wages than Anglo men: Chicanos (Spanish origin) had median earnings of $14,700 in 1981, compared with $21,240 for white men (U.S. Census, cited in Segura 1984:64). Furthermore, migrant work is a significant part of Chicano men’s labor history. Although migrant Chicano workers sometimes took their families on their journeys, they also were often temporarily separated. Economic instability and migration have hammered at the cohesion of Chicano families and have exacerbated the economic dependence of family members.

Despite some unique features of their labor history, Chicana workers have been subject to the same processes as other women in the labor market. Chicana workers have also been concentrated in “women’s work” (Ruiz 1984).14 Chicanas differ from Anglo women, however, in terms of specific patterns of segregation by industry and occupation. For example, in the midseventies the most numerous occupational category for Chicana workers was operatives, followed by clerical and service workers. At this time, the most numerous occupational category for all women was clericals, followed by service and professional or technical workers (U.S. Bureau of Census 1977). Laura Arroyo (1973) has documented the contemporary concentration of Chicanas in particular industries—food processing, electronics, and garments. Chicana workers largely reside in the Southwest, where these industries are important, and they are typically “tracked” into these low-paying jobs. Factors that contribute to the occupational segregation of Chicanas include discrimination by employers, low educational attainment, and the lack of skills.15 Chicano families tend to have more children than white families, so the lack of child care also places considerable constraints on Chicanas’ participation in the labor force.

By 1980 Chicanas had experienced some occupational upward mobility into the professions and technical ranks. Denise Segura (1984) has shown that educational levels of Chicanas have risen, accounting for some of the occupational mobility Chicanas experienced between 1970 and 1980. Vicki Ruiz (1984) and Rosemary Cooney (1975) have shown that Chicanas with high educational levels are more likely to be in the labor force than those with little education. Nonetheless, Chicanas were still concentrated in “Women’s jobs” in 1980.

Certain analyses of Chicana employment patterns (Almquist and Wehrle-Einhorn 1978; McKay 1974; Cooney 1975; Fogel 1967; Briggs, Fogel, and Schmidt 1977) have provided important information but are marred by the misconception that Chicana cultural values determine Women’s labor-force participation, an argument not substantiated by the evidence.16 These conceptual problems stem from, a long-standing view of Chicano culture and families.

Perspectives on Chicano Families

There has been a curious conceptual focus in research on Women’s roles in Chicano families. In the past, Chicano families were often viewed on the basis of a functionalist “machismo” model. According to this view, Mexican folk tradition is expressed in “familistic” values: Mexican cultural principles of male dominance and age-based authority in decision making are considered the core of Chicano families. Furthermore, patriarchal values are said to define a complete segregation of roles within the family, with an authoritative husband-father who ideally is the breadwinner and a submissive wife-mother who cares for the home and rears the children.17 Mexican-American families are considered to retain these Mexican cultural norms. Values that are conducive to success in American society—achievement, independence, and deferred gratification—are supposedly absent in the Mexican-American family.

This perspective assumes that the Mexican-American family is insulated from American institutions, functioning to socialize children and inculcate them with Mexican values. According to this view, the family also serves as an emotional retreat from a hostile world. Conjugal relations among Chicanos are said not to include shared interests and recreation or satisfactory sexual relations.18 Chicano families are also said to be familistic in that solidarity arrangements are not focused on the nuclear family. Instead, the family of origin and compadrazgo (fictive kin) ties are supposed to be more important to Chicanos.19

Change in Chicano families is often explained by acculturation— as Chicanos acquire American “egalitarian” values and norms, the family changes accordingly. Chicano women in particular are said to be subject to acculturating tendencies.20

A hearty critique of acculturation theory and functionalism has developed in the past decade and a half, much of it by Chicano social scientists.21 This revisionist body of work shows that functionalism, as it has been applied to Chicano families, reifies values and norms and disregards change and variation among both Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.22 Although there may be ideals of egalitarian or “companionate” family relationships in the United States, behavior may radically depart from values, and the patriarchal nature of American and other Western families cannot be ignored. Structurally, the traditional American family is similar to the traditional Mexican family; the assumption that the former is somehow more modern is unfounded.23 The acculturation model misidentifies the “nontraditional” United States as gender egalitarian and condemns contemporary Chicanos to a timeless, unvarying patriarchal culture. To the extent that functionalist and acculturation studies have any virtue, it is that they describe the ideology of traditional Chicano families.

Chicano family ideology is made complex, however, by the cultural and demographic heterogeneity of the Mexican-American people (Moore 1970; Grebler, Moore, and Guzman 1970). The majority of Chicanos are born in the United States, but a significant portion (one-third) are foreign-born. Estimates vary, but most observers place the number of undocumented Mexicans residing in the United States at between one-quarter and two million people (Cornelius et al. 1982). Chicanos have rapidly urbanized, more than the general population, and by 1970 approximately 90 percent of all Chicanos lived in urban areas. The majority of Chicanos speak English and Spanish; yet the portions that speak only English (13 percent in 1978) or predominantly Spanish are increasing. Mexican immigrants migrate from both rural and urban locations in every region of Mexico (Portes 1979), adding to Mexican cultural diversity in the United States.

Regional variation among Chicanos in the United States can be found in Spanish accents and vocabulary (for example, the use of sixteenth-century Spanish among rural northern New Mexicans), recipes and food preferences, folklore, and manner of ethnic identification. Ernesto Galarza (1972) has suggested that there are Chicano cultural regions that correspond to major urban centers: the San Francisco Bay Area (centered in San Jose), metropolitan Los Angeles, the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno), the Salt River Valley in Arizona (Phoenix), northern New Mexico-southern Colorado (Albuquerque), South Texas (San Antonio), and the U.S.-Mexico border area (San Diego, El Paso, McAllen). Chicago, second only to Los Angeles in the number of Chicano residents, is another Chicano urban cultural center.24 Terms of ethnic identification alone vary considerably. The official terms include Hispanics or Persons of Mexican Origin, both used by the Census Bureau. People identify themselves as Mexican- American, Mexican, Spanish American or Hispano (primarily used in the northern New Mexico-southern Colorado area), Raza or Latino (mainly in urban areas where there are large concentrations of Latin Americans), and Chicano. The term Chicano became widely used in the late 1960s and reflects a shift in consciousness similar to that of using Black rather than Negro.25 Ethnic diversity among Chicanos suggests that one is likely to find variation in family ideology as well.

Recent empirical studies also question some of the notions proposed by the functional approach (see Cromwell and Cromwell 1978; Cromwell and Ruiz 1979). Frank Bean and his colleagues (1977) have attempted to ascertain whether Chicano families are indeed as familistic as suggested in the literature. Their survey of 325 Mexican-American couples found that Chicano husbands are less satisfied with the marriage when their wives work than when they do not work. However, Chicanos are less dissatisfied when their wives work for reasons of economic necessity than when they work voluntarily. Bluecollar Chicanos are most satisfied with the affective aspects of their marriage when their wives are not employed. Because of this variation and the similarities to working-class Anglo couples, the researchers have concluded: “There is little evidence that familism is an over-ridingly important factor in Mexican-American family life. … Class is probably the most important factor conditioning the relationship” (Bean, Curtis, and Marcum 1977:766).

The revisionist work that examines how Women’s wage labor affects Mexican-American families (Hawkes and Taylor 1975; Zinn 1980; Ybarra 1982b) is discussed more fully in subsequent chapters. But we may note now that these works convey a keen sense of the flexibility and variation in Chicano families. Maxine Baca Zinn has asserted that “future research on Mexican-American families must examine the ways in which family roles are affected by both cultural expectations and specific external linkages of family members with societal institutions” (1980:59). I suggest that we examine particular interconnections between Women’s work and family, and my study of long-term Chicana cannery workers provides one example of these linkages.

A socialist feminist lens, filtered by a concern with racial inequality, opens up a field of vision with which to understand the lives of Chicana workers. Our next step is to focus on one historically specific vista, to examine how a particular sector of women of color have experienced and perceived the complex articulations of race, class, and gender.26

Chicana Cannery Workers

I argue that the structural constraints on Women’s lives and the ideology of family reinforce Chicanas’ subordination. Within this context, women construct varied meanings of work and family. The analysis begins in Chapter 2 with an overview of Women’s work in the canning industry. The occupational segregation by gender and race and the diminishing number of canning jobs created an older labor force. In addition, the declining canning industry, which had high portions of Chicanas, kept women in marginal economic positions.

Chapter 3 uses Women’s life histories to describe the context in which the women I interviewed decided to seek cannery jobs. The need for their labor at home, along with few job options and child–care facilities, limited these women to “mothers’ jobs.” Women had to struggle with their husbands in making the decision to seek even seasonal wage work.

Chapter 4 focuses on the cannery work culture in which networks of coworkers are an important element. I distinguish between “work-based networks,” which are informal groups that socialize women into work culture, and “work-related networks,” which are expanded work-based networks operating outside the factories and whose members engage in social exchange. This distinction enables us to interpret the meaning that women workers derive from the work situation. I show how work-based networks are structured and how they derive from the occupational segregation on the job. Yet work-based friendships hold important positive values for women as well.

Chapter 5 focuses on the family lives of cannery women who had long-term seasonal jobs. I show that although family ideology did become more egalitarian, the actual division of labor did not. I also examine how work-related networks operate within Women’s private lives and suggest that coworker relationships are one way in which Chicanas bridge the worlds of work and family.27 A brief chapter discusses restructuring of the canning industry in the six years following my fieldwork and the decline of canning in the Santa Clara Valley.

In sum, I aim to merge a socialist feminist perspective on the political-economic conditions of women’s cannery work with an interpretation of Chicanas’ cultural expressions. By linking the changing conditions of women’s work with changes in families, we can understand the meaning women attribute to their total life situations.

The rest of this chapter discusses the issues involved when a Chicana researcher conducts a study among women of her own ethnic group. I agree with Arron Cicourel (1964) that the very conditions of social scientific research constitute an important and complex variable, greatly influencing the findings of an investigation. My status as a Chicana affected the reception I got and the data to which I had access. My discussion of the context of the interviews and the status of the researcher assumes that the feelings of the researcher and subjects are data in themselves. Moreover, my reflections are both personal and “deeply cultural” (Cesara 1982) and allow the reader a view of the potential areas of bias arising from the anthropological interview process.

The Fieldwork Process

The Santa Clara Valley is located on the southeastern shore of the San Francisco Bay.28 The valley was once a rich agricultural area, noted for the acres of fruit orchards that thrived in the mild climate. Santa Clara County is now a major metropolitan area and financial center, with high-rise buildings in the renovated downtown area and suburbs covering the once-beautiful agrarian landscape. The major city is San Jose, whose sphere of influence covers approximately eighty-six thousand acres (City of San Jose 1974).

I chose the valley as the research site for two reasons. It has a relatively large Hispanic population, 22 percent in 1970 (U.S. Bureau of Census 1973), which was primarily of Mexican origin. Thus San Jose differed from other places such as San Francisco, which has a large Latino population from Central and South America but a small Mexican-American component. Second, the city was large, with a population of 445,000 in 1970. It is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation, with a diverse employment structure. I could expect to find Chicanos working in a variety of occupations. My aim, at first, was to find a job with a family-service agency so as to meet a variety of people. Then with the backing of such an institution, I planned to conduct the research full time. When I moved to San Jose it quickly became clear that finding a position in an agency would be impossible. Jobs were scarce and competition with overly qualified people was intense.

A general housing shortage in the Santa Clara Valley made it nearly impossible for my family of three to find an affordable place near the east side of town where most Chicanos reside. We ended up living on the extreme west side of San Jose. The sprawling suburban area is crossed by several major freeways, which I had to take to deliver my child to the babysitter before conducting an interview; the average driving time was forty-five minutes one way, and my most vivid memory of San Jose is of being stuck in traffic on a sweltering, smoggy day. Time was often wasted as well on those inevitable occasions when informants had to reschedule interviews at the last minute.

Living on the west side made me feel isolated at times and as if I were not part of the Chicano community. As Maxine Baca Zinn (1979b) has emphasized, fieldwork is a continuous process of entering the field and of meeting and establishing relationships with informants. I did not have a neighborhood home base from which to maintain such contacts. My plight was similar to that of other migrants to San Jose. Annalee Saxenian (1980, 1984) has traced the explosive growth of the electronics industry and other changes by which the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” became known as Silicon Valley.29 Suburban sprawl, congested freeways, and neighborhood shifts along with rising housing costs are all standard fare of life in the valley.

Initially, I tried to interview people in positions of authority in the canning industry, specifically union officials and company executives. These sources proved to be generally unsatisfactory. They were suspicious of my motives and effectively avoided my questions. For example, while talking with a cannery-company executive whose job was to investigate litigation against the corporation and relating my plan to do plant observations, he said: “They [his fellow executives] think I’m weird when I talk to these workers for too long, when I ask too many questions. So there’s no way they would let someone like you, an outsider, in to talk with them.” At one point I met with a Chicana-plant affirmative-action officer. I hoped to become employed at the cannery and to do observations from the job. I assured her that my interests were purely academic. She found my research interesting but worried that I would “talk too much.” She told me: “The reason why some people don’t want to talk to you is because they think you’re a socialist, or a Communist, or from the Cannery Workers Committee, or someone from the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] snooping around, or from the union, or OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration]. See, all these agencies are involved; you could be from any one.” In one statement she adeptly covered all of the political fears imaginable. She promised to call me during the season but never did, and I found out later that she had been fired.

On the union front, the situation was also politically sensitive. My attempt to talk with a Teamster official was met with a curt “all of this is confidential information.” The Teamsters and the United Farm Workers (UFW) unions had a jurisdictional rivalry during the 1970s, which carried over into canneries.30 At this time there was a short–lived “Teamsters for Chávez” movement and some cannery workers wore pro-Chávez buttons at the factories. Cesar Chávez, the president of the United Farm Workers, and the Teamsters came to several agreements over which union would represent agricultural and food-processing workers.31 They agreed in 1977 that the UFW would represent farm workers, and the Teamsters would remain the exclusive union for cannery workers. This situation raised suspicions regarding my intentions. The fact that I then used the surname Chávez, was a Chicana investigating an industry that was undergoing a race-and sex-discrimination suit, and that I came from Berkeley all raised questions about my motives. My surname proved particularly sensitive. On one occasion, I attempted to interview a union official. After forty-five minutes of my getting nowhere, he apparently decided I was harmless despite the fact that I was a Chávez, and he signaled to that effect by nodding to his coworker who hovered nearby. I was quickly ushered out the door and given two grievance-process case–books, which proved to be of little value. I found that when I identified myself as Zavella, even in something as innocuous as making arrangements for plant tours, I received more cooperation. The time spent in attempting to interview officials was largely wasted, and I redirected my energy toward establishing worker contacts.

One of my original sources was an acquaintance who introduced me to his mother and aunts at a party attended almost exclusively by cannery-worker families; several of the women I met at this party agreed to participate in the study. My other sources were two activist lawyers who had worked extensively with cannery workers and their causes; they gave me names and phone numbers of several persons who agreed to be interviewed. These contacts provided access to two types of informants: those who were critical of conditions in the industry and who actively sought redress and those who were relatively apolitical. Interviewing informants from two perspectives enabled me to formulate questions better and to gain insight into the intricacies of the whole situation. Without mentioning names, I raised questions with my informants based on notions others had expressed. This allowed me to see more clearly the internal divisions among workers and how this affected their constructions of meaning regarding work, family, and political roles.

The descriptive material I collected came mainly from interviews with Chicana production workers, and the cases were selected to represent the range of variation found among the informants. I also hope to show Women’s personalities—their humor, strength, and sarcasm. Regardless of the stereotypes of passive Mexican-American women portrayed in the literature and despite the many constraints in their lives, these women were vibrant historical actors.32

I also gained information through participant observation in private and public settings—parties, barbecues, union meetings, labor “shape-ups” outside the canneries, plant tours, informal meetings of cannery workers—and through my participation in labor organizing. For two seasons I tried unsuccessfully to get a job in a cannery by waiting around company gates, a quest shared by many.

The Politics of Research

Race and gender relations had a definite impact on my research. This could be seen not only in the process of conducting fieldwork in San Jose but also in the importance of my status and of various community members' perceptions of me. The insider-outsider dilemma is still salient for minority researchers doing fieldwork in minority communities.33

During my stay in San Jose, there were two local political controversies that affected my fieldwork. The first was a controversy over research being carried out at the local medical center, located a few blocks from my apartment. The medical research institute sponsored an Anglo graduate student in anthropology who was studying cultural values and reproductive decision making among Mexican-Americans. A Chicano organization had been agitating for months trying to prevent the medical center from cutting back services that would affect poor people. They seized upon this issue and branded the student’s research as racist. Their main criticism was that the research exploited persons of Mexican ancestry, even though taking the questionnaire was voluntary and it was administered to Anglos as well. The organization’s spokesperson questioned: “Why should someone use the Chicano community for their own benefit of getting a degree?” The medical center was pressured to drop its support of the research.34

This issue was very close to home literally and by professional association. I was the same age and gender as the anthropologist, and my research was similar. I empathized with the woman and realized I had to be very careful not to offend Chicano political groups. I was also thankful that I had not been able to work through an agency that could become embroiled in political controversy. At the same time, I could understand the community members’ outrage at being used as research objects by an institution that was cutting back on services to them.

There is a long history of minority-group hostility toward Anglo researchers who are perceived as furthering their careers at the expense of other people’s time, trust, and privacy. This has sparked the call for minority people to boycott such research or to demand something in return, and in some communities Chicanos have done just that.35 In response, social scientists have called for a code of ethics that recognizes the often-exploitive nature of research in minority communities and that enjoins researchers to reciprocate in some way (Blauner and Wellman 1973; Zinn 1979b).

Near the end of the fieldwork, I was asked to join in the campaign to get a slate of workers elected to union office. Although I was concerned with the possible repercussions this would have on my research, I could hardly refuse to participate. Because of my criticism of working conditions and my sensitivity to the ethics of research, I thought this was an opportunity to reciprocate in a very tangible way. In addition, the organizers had been generous in their support of my research, and I felt an obligation to assist. Also, I knew my participation would allow me to make new contacts and intensify my relations with those informants who were involved, and I hoped to gain further insight into the industry and union organization. I never regretted the decision. My position was campaign coordinator, which essentially involved doing more intensive research—securing and interpreting election rules, developing rosters of cannery workers, mapping cannery locations and their shift schedules—running errands, and coordinating the scheduling of meetings, leafletting, and observers at the polling sites. The group’s permanent membership developed the campaign strategy and organizational ideology. I made my role as anthropologist clear to everyone involved.

A second community problem was even more serious. While I lived in San Jose there was a series of rapes that occurred mainly in the downtown area, which I frequented, near the university. Women were raped at knifepoint in broad daylight, and a nun was raped in her convent bedroom. There was such community protest that the mayor appointed a special task force and enlarged the undercover police patrols in the area. Several suspects were arrested, one who resided in an apartment two buildings from where I lived. The rapist was finally caught when he attempted to break into the convent a second time.

All of this occurred at a time when Redbook magazine named San Jose the second-best city in the country in which women could live and work. San Jose won this distinction based on its rating in eight areas: number of jobs for women, number of women elected to public office, medical care, concern for children, income, legislation, character of the population, and, ironically, personal safety.36 However, both my female informants and I were extremely fearful, and I tried as much as possible to do fieldwork during the day. But since my informants worked day shifts, this was largely impossible, and I was forced to go out at night. Both the research controversy and the danger of night work affected my role as ethnographer, which, I hope, eventually led to richer research.

The interviews were informal and usually took place in the informants’ homes. Most people were very hospitable, offering me a beverage, showing me their homes, offering gifts of food or produce from their gardens, pulling out family pictures, or introducing family members as they passed by. Since I did not pay them, I relied on the rapport that we established and their generosity. I was very much aware of their kindness in spending their valued leisure time with me, and I reciprocated as best I could by bringing small gifts and giving advice and information when they requested it. Occasionally, a spouse, child, or friend was present but usually not for long. The women were visibly more at ease when we were alone, and we rescheduled the interview if a husband unexpectedly showed up.

The interviews were open ended and based on an interview guide developed early in the research. I did not actually administer a questionnaire but asked general questions and allowed women to talk freely about their lives. The interviews were “collaborative” (Laslet and Rapoport 1975) in that the women actively participated in the process and asked me questions too; we pursued issues they raised and felt were important. My aim was to interview the women at least twice, and I also obtained more information through subsequent telephone calls. After the interviews, when my notes were put away, I encouraged people to discuss how they felt about the process. Most women remarked that they had enjoyed our conversations, although some worried about what I would do with the information. At these times I often received important information, and informants questioned me further about my own life. I later recorded the content of these discussions. Ann Oakley (1981) has suggested that in contrast to a positivist view, in which interviews are considered to be value-free data-collection methods, interviewers should invest their own identity in the interview situation.37 1 found this methodological style comfortable when interviewing women. I also did oral histories, usually with male cannery workers and labor organizers.

Some of the interviews were conducted bilingually or completely in Spanish. Although my Spanish is adequate for general understanding, I do not consider myself completely fluent in what is my second language. I explained this to the Spanish speakers who usually laughed in acknowledgment. They were used to translating or speaking bilingually to their children and other pochos (limited Spanish speakers) of my generation. They occasionally asked me if I understood what they were saying. If not, they repeated or clarified until I got the point.

Most of my informants worked and were never sure when they would be home; with overtime during the canning season, they put in long days. So I scheduled interviews that were convenient to them, usually in the off-season.

After explaining the nature of my research and assuring them of confidentiality, if I felt it was appropriate I asked to record the interview. Some were clearly nervous initially, and some of the women refused outright to be taped. For those interviews that I could not record, I either taped the content of their responses in my car on the drive home, or I wrote up my field notes immediately afterward. I generally took notes while interviewing, but sometimes I was told, “You don’t need to put this down” or “I don’t want this to go in the book because I still got to work there. ” Since those were usually the most interesting parts, I was a devoted listener and recorded them later.

Folklorist Américo Paredes (1977) has raised a challenge that researchers of a Chicano population must take seriously. He suggests that Anglo ethnographers have produced stereotypic studies because they are not familiar with Mexican folklore, particularly joking and the subtle use of verbal art. These ethnographers attribute literal meanings to figurative expressions or to parodies and humorous fiction. The problem arises especially if the cultural expressions arouse the ethnographers’ latent biases. Often the outsider is the butt of cultural jokes, and anthropologists can be particularly vulnerable. The context of verbal performance and cultural nuance that is unfamiliar to the uninitiated may be critical in evaluating the nature of the interaction. Particularly when the information is obtained in group context, with many informants contributing to a story, an ethnographer should be wary. Paredes does not consider if this is primarily a male form of artistic expression, although all of his humorous examples of situations in which the social scientist was duped include male performers.38 In any event, his warnings alerted me to the necessity of viewing interviews as possible performances.

My first interview with Blanca Ramirez was fascinating, a real performance. After hearing about my interests, she shook her head and announced: “I don’t know if this is what you want to hear or not, but I speak the truth.’’ She then bitterly launched into her life story (in Spanish), becoming agitated as she went along, yelling obscenities, and chain-smoking. There was no ventilation in the room and only one light shone on Blanca’s face. I was mesmerized, as if listening to horror stories. She told me details that Mexican women would not normally reveal to strangers. At one point, based on her son’s eyewitness account, Blanca graphically demonstrated how her babysitter once had sex with a boyfriend. She jumped up, lifted up her blouse and bared her stomach, and wildly groped and bumped. She described the argument she had with this woman after she found out and spat out her words with disgust: “Ah, esas cabronas, son of a bitch!’’ I was shocked.

Verbal art can be expressed for motives other than duping or shocking the naive. My informants, for example, wanted to protect their privacy from public knowledge and either provided vague answers or evaded them altogether until I proved myself. My first interview with Jesse Valenzuela showed him to be skillfully evasive until he questioned me thoroughly regarding my interests and motives. His reason was that he had been involved in the cannery strike of 1931 and had picked up some Communist literature on the ground. Because he had discussed the contents of the flyers with other workers, he was branded as a Communist. During the 1950s an FBI agent came to his home to question him. He was outraged by this and worried that I also could be from the FBI. These were my most frustrating moments, and Jesse allowed me to begin my questions only after I told him about my involvement in the election campaign, and I clarified my political views. In addition, the context of the interviews was tempered by my status as a Chicana.

I agree with Ann Oakley’s (1981) suggestion that the micropolitics of interviewing reflect societal relationships, and the usually unequal status of interviewer and informant contributes to those politics. She has claimed that an informal, collaborative interview style is best among women because it is nonhierarchical. However, it is not always possible to keep status differences out of interviews.

I was reared in a very traditional Chicano family in the working-class suburbs of southern California and hoped that I would understand my informants because I was one of them; to a certain extent this was true. My ethnicity and gender provided entrées, and women in particular did not hesitate in allowing me into their homes. This was certainly congruent with other situations in which women researchers have access to Women’s private lives (Chiñas 1973; Fernea 1969; Wolf 1968). Some Women’seemed lonely, and they welcomed the chance to talk with me, taking it upon themselves to educate me about canneries or union politics. Other women related family details, such as problems with alcoholism, that were sometimes upsetting.

The question of family may be the most meaningful area of womens lives, and talking with a stranger about domestic adjustment, conflict, or pain is sensitive.39 My status was problematic at this point, for although women would have few qualms about sharing personal problems with trusted friends or relatives, some of them were reluctant to discuss them with me, even with the guarantee of anonymity. Furthermore, even by raising certain questions, it was implied that I viewed things differently than they did. We were forced to recognize how very different we were.

In part the reticence can be traced to my position as an outsider. Although as a graduate student I had a lower income than many of the informants, who by middle age owned their own homes and had relatively stable life-styles, most perceived me as upper middle class or even “rich.” As their questions implied, how else could I afford to go to college and have the luxury of doing esoteric research?

My education was both a barrier and source of prestige. Informants were very conscious of my education and repeatedly advised me to take advantage of the opportunities offered by an education—opportunities they had never had. Some Women’saw me as a role model for their children or a potential contact for a better job. Yet the “hidden injuries of class” (Sennett and Cobb 1972) and racism were common experiences for these informants. Some took great pains to use big words, to let me know they read books, or to demonstrate other “intellectual” cues. These attempts were fueled by the racist insults they received at work. For example, Daniel Rodriguez overheard a personnel officer respond to a foreman’s request for a new worker by asking, “Do you want brains or muscles, a white or a Mexican?” Being questioned by an educated person exposed the perceived limitations and denied aspirations of the informants, so I tried as best I could to acknowledge their efforts to educate themselves, to dispel their illusions of my affluence, and to sympathize with the affronts they endured.

Many informants were old enough to be my parent or grandparent. They had pride in the younger generation’s successes, but they also felt nostalgia for the past. The history of their struggles, which included having been subject to official violence and which created the opportunities for the youth today, are buried in memories. They sometimes saw me as a vessel for making that history known, and at these times they tended to gloss over what were considered the banalities of everyday life.

But informants’ reticence went beyond the barriers of education and generation and stemmed precisely from my ethnicity and gender. This was brought out in the middle of sessions in which “rapport” was established and personal information was being discussed. A woman would stop and with a meaningful look make a distancing statement such as “Mmm pues, tú sabes, ¿pa que te digo?” Literally, this means “Well, you know, why should I tell you?” but figuratively, it means “What’s the point of even discussing it.” Others would abruptly end discussions with tantalizing statements, saying, for example: “Things between my husband and me are not as simple as they seem; they are quite complicated, but I can’t explain it all.” Such statements, which came only from women, occurred when the topic had to do with their husbands’ or other men’s sexism, arrogance, drunkenness, or marital conflict. They expressed more than oifhand disgust, embarrassment, or resignation. They also meant “You should know, I don’t want to explain this to you.” Even before they spelled out the details, I understood there was pain and vulnerability in their struggles with men, and these moments produced mixed feelings.

I did not want to pressure anyone into pursuing any matters because of the danger of transgressing the cultural principle of confianza. This Chicano construction assumes that only certain people outside the immediate family are to be trusted with private information. I felt as if I was committing “symbolic violence” (Rabinow 1977) by intruding into people’s privacy; it seemed more insidious because my cultural and female status got me accepted in the first place. By pressing the matter, I would have crossed the boundaries of acceptability and social comfort. To refrain from probing, however, would have been a denial of my research objectives. I was simultaneously an insider and outsider, in a knowledgeable yet difficult position.40

On some occasions I changed the line of questioning to less delicate matters. But at other times I was able to maintain the subject by personalizing our exchange. After gesturing sympathetically, I reciprocated and discussed my personal experience or knowledge and invited their opinions. I turned the situation into a mutually intimate one, and in this way we sustained trust. The women felt more at ease and were willing to relate their own experience in greater detail.

On the whole, interviews were unusual experiences for informants, since I encouraged them to discuss their feelings in a manner they probably had never known before. Many people initially felt awkward in this new type of situation. At some point during the interview most people noted that those in power paid little attention to them, that “nobody listens to cannery workers.” They also inquired, “Why do you want to talk to me?” These remarks were indications that they did not ordinarily express themselves on the issues, and in a sense, they were reflecting their devalued sense of self. My reassurances that their views were important and that I was interested even in mundane details were surprising to them. After seeing my response, several informants imagined a book on cannery workers about which they could boast to their friends that they had participated or even that they would receive part of my “profits. ” Some informants got a sense of perspective on their lives, a summing up, which despite having to recount the pain was a rewarding experience.

In feeling that their lives had broader significance than only to themselves, my informants gained a pleasurable affirmation of self–esteem. For example, despite his seventy-two years, Emilio Soliz was still active in labor organizing and community politics. During the 1950s he was almost deported for being a Communist sympathizer. Yet he trusted me immediately and graciously consented to be interviewed several times. He remarked in Spanish after our initial interview; “I feel obligated to contribute something of my experience. It’s as if I am living once again. When one remembers and reflects about the past, the past seems to come to life again. I feel very happy in doing this and satisfied to be able to help out.”

I was deeply affected, too, and came away from the interviews fiercely angry about Women’s painful experiences. I shared in the depression of a woman resigned to her limited options and in the anxiety of an old man’s justified fears of police informers. Yet despite their problems, these people’s strong sense of dignity and human spirit was truly impressive. I was privileged to have had my informants’ confidence and trust, and I am dedicated to guarding it. Throughout this book the names of workers have been changed, and aspects of their lives have been disguised to protect whatever confianza was shared with me.


1. The index of occupational segregation by sex showed no change between 1900 and 1960 (Gross 1968), declined slightly during the 1960s, and declined significantly during the 1970s because women began entering traditionally male occupations in the professions and management. Yet by 1981, 60 percent of women (or men) workers would have to change jobs to achieve identical male and female distributions (Beller 1984).

2. Studies of Chicano workers show how racism and class exploitation are intertwined; yet they focus on men and ignore sexism. Although the growing literature on women and work analyzes the relationship of class and gender, it rarely investigates the situation of minority women and often ignores the importance of race.

3. For an analysis of different types of feminist theory—conservative, liberal, traditional Marxist, radical, and socialist—see Jaggar and Rothenberg 1984.

4. Feminist scholars have debated how housework contributes to women’s oppression. One position holds that Women’s household labor produces use value as opposed to exchange value, which places women outside of capitalist relations (Benston 1969). Others argue that women not only provide essential services for capital by reproducing the working class but also create surplus value through that work (Dalla Costa and James 1972).

5. Sara Ruddick (1982) has noted that sacrifice is integral to “maternal thinking,” the reflections, emotions, and judgment developed through the discipline of mothering.

6. Several theorists (Davis 1981; Hooks 1984; Joseph 1981; Simons 1979; Westwood 1984) have argued that women of different classes and races have varied interests and experiences, and race must be incorporated into socialist feminist theory.

7. The majority of Mexicans who lived in northern Mexico were mestizos—that is, of Spanish and Indian parentage.

8. Mario Barrera has suggested that there was a “colonial labor system” at this time, in which Chícanos were a subject to “labor repression”: There was a system of dual wages, with Mexicans being paid lower wages than Anglos for equal work, or occupational stratification based on racial status; Chícanos served as reserve labor pools as well as “buffers” in times of economic dislocation, and their geographic mobility was restricted (1979:chap. 3). For other discussions of Chicano occupational segregation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Acuña 1981, Jiménez 1981, M. García 1981, Trujillo 1981, Montejano 1981.

9. The literature on Mexican immigration and migration is extensive. See Gornez- Quinoñes 1981, Hernández-Alvarez 1966, Portes 1979, Ríos-Bustamante 1981, Cornelius 1983, Gamio 1930, Tienda 1983, Cárdenas 1975. Margarita Melville (1978) and Rosalinda González (1983) have examined the conditions of Mexican immigrant women, and Wayne Cornelius and his colleagues at the Center for U.S.-Mexican studies have produced scores of monographs and articles on Mexican immigration.

10. An immigration commission report of 1911 found that 58 percent of Mexican railroad workers and 60 percent of the Mexicans employed in construction admitted that they had wives with them. These figures were much higher than those for immigrant groups from Europe and Asia. See Garcia 1980. The immigration of Asian wives was restricted until 1965.

11. In search of farm work or other jobs, Chícanos on the migrant stream eventually settled in such remote places as Chicago and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or in the Northwestern states (Año Nuevo de Kerr 1975; Cárdenas 1975; Slatta 1975). See also Allen 1931a, 1931b.

12. For other sources on Chicano labor organizing, see the special issue of Aztlán on Chicano Labor Studies (Arroyo 1975).

13. Sources on Chicanas’ participation in labor organizing include Mora and Del Castillo 1980, Mirandé and Enriquez 1979, Almaguer and Camarillo 1983, Garcia 1980, Durón 1984.

14. For overviews of Chicanas in the labor force, see Segura 1984, Sánchez 1977, Mirandé and Enriquez 1979. Collections of oral histories that include Chicana workers are Elsasser, MacKenzie, and Tixier’y Vigil 1980; Coles and Coles 1978; Seifer 1976; Cantarow, O’Malley, and Strom 1980.

15. Tatcho Mindiola (1981) has examined the cost of being a Chicana worker in the Houston labor market and has shown how jobs in the public sector provide less discrimination for Chicanas.

16. For critiques of this view, see Ruiz 1984, Segura 1984, Zavella 1984. I suggest that a complex set of factors, including changing labor markets in which women’s jobs contract or expand, determine Chicanas’ labor-force participation.

17. Several related norms are said to follow: Fathers and older brothers are seen as distant and commanding obedience and respect. Mothers are portrayed as sacrificing, nurturing, and modest. Women are viewed as manipulators who covertly influence men through children and other kin. Men and women are said to live in separate worlds, with only brief moments of interaction between them.

18. See Heller 1966, Peñalosa 1968, Ramírez 1967, Madsen 1964, Rubel 1966, Tharp et al. 1968. For an excellent summary of the trends in Chicano family studies, see Ybarra 1983.

19. This characterization is similar to ideal typical working-class families: “Blue- collarites” are seen as oriented toward the extended family, traditional, patriarchal, religious, authoritarian, liking discipline, and so on (Miller and Riessman 1961). However, few social scientists have incorporated the concept of class into their analyses of Mexican-Americans. For a critique of this perspective as applied to white ethnics, see di Leonardo 1984.

20. Manuel Ramirez (1967) has found that Mexican-American college students identify more with authoritarian family values than do Anglo students. Chicanas, however, reject the values of masculine superiority and separation of the sex roles, which Ramirez has characterized as evidence of “Americanization. ” He has claimed that “this is to be expected because their roles are being affected more than those of men by the increasing Americanization in the values of the culture,” and he has suggested that acculturation and “cognitive dissonance in the area of civil rights”— the “need to maintain the status quo”—may create conflicts for Mexican-Americans (1967:9). See also Tharp et al. 1968, Humphrey 1944, Madsen 1964, Staples 1971, Samora and Larson 1961.

21. Some of the earliest critiques include Romano-V. 1968, 1970; Vaca 1970; Montiel 1970, 1973; Sotomayor 1971. See also Alvirez and Bean 1976; Zinn 1975, 1979a, 1980; Miller 1975; Mirandé 1977; Ramos 1973; Ramirez and Arce 1981; Wells 1981; Ybarra 1982a, 1982b, 1983; Zavella 1976. Renato Rosaldo (1984) has pointed out that functionalism was out of fashion at its source at Harvard by the midsixties, yet ironically continued to be uncritically applied to Chicano populations. Perhaps the functionalist social scientists were experiencing “cognitive dissonance.”

22. Américo Paredes (1971) has shown how the term machismo was not a part of Mexican folk tradition until the 1940s. Facundo Valdez (1979) has claimed that the term is foreign to New Mexico, whereas Leonarda Ybarra (1982a) has found great variation in how Chícanos define machismo.

23. Barrie Thorne (1982) has criticized the functionalist perspective on families in general. She has noted, however, that the feminist theoretical concern with the underlying structures of gender and age are borrowed from functionalism.

24. Works that document regional Chicano history and changing cultural patterns include Gonzales 1985; Onis 1976; Brown, Briggs, and Weigle 1978; Paredes 1982; Leonard and Hannon 1977; Camarillo 1979; Campa 1979; M. Garcia 1981; Pitt 1970.

25. For discussions of the problems, context, and regional differences in Chicano ethnic identification, see Metzgar 1974; Miller 1976; Limón 1981; Peñalosa 1970; Hernández, Estrada, and Alvirez 1973; J. Garcia 1981.

26. For works on Black and Japanese-American women that take a similar approach, see Davis 1981, Thornton Dill 1983, Nakano Glenn 1980.

27. Ulf Hannerz (1980) has suggested that the flexibility of networks is crucial. While agreeing with this, I also believe that anthropologists should pay close attention to conditions in which various types of networks flourish and how networks contribute to cultural meaning for the social actors. Suad Joseph (1983) has a similar perspective.

28. Census data for Santa Clara County (San Jose SMSA) will be used here since others are not available, although the valley is only the eastern part of the county and extends north beyond the county line.

29. Silicon Valley is located in the northern and western part of Santa Clara County.

30. This was the California State Council of Cannery and Food Processing Unions, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers.

31. For good organizational analyses of the United Farm Workers Union that mention this jurisdictional conflict, see Friedland and Thomas 1974, Thomas and Friedland 1982.

32. William Madsen’s (1964) work is probably the most infamous in this regard. For example, he has stated: “Because women are regarded as weak, suggestible, and less intelligent than males, the purity of a female must be defended first by her parents and then after marriage by her husband” (1964:20).

33. For an overview of the insider-outsider controversy regarding who is best qualified to conduct research with minority populations, see Zinn 1979b and Aguilar 1981.

34. San Jose Mercury News, 29 May 1978.

35. See Gonzales 1985 for an interesting account of a similar community protest over a racial-attitude questionnaire in which an Anglo social scientist not only was fired from the University but was pressured to leave town under threat of physical harm.

36. San Jose Mercury News, 20 June 1978. San Jose has since been labeled a feminist capital because of the large number of women in public office and because the union for public employees successfully staged a strike on comparable worth for women employees.

37. Wayne Cornelius (1982) has claimed that informal interviews increase reliability and validity with undocumented Mexican migrants. A formal interview style raises suspicions that the interviewer represents agencies such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

38. In an analysis of chingar mentes behavior (which means to fuck over minds), I concluded that it is a male form of verbal art similar to “playing the dozens” by young Black males. I observed young Chicano males from South Texas spreading false stories or spontaneously duping someone through group verbal performance. According to the performers, the point of these hilarious deceptions was just to chingar mentes, but I argue they develop male solidarity and prestige among the participants.

39. Researchers of the National Chicano Survey found that for their one thousand randomly selected Chicano respondents, the topic of family “is clearly the central feature of the respondent’s interests, as well as the most critical and problematic focal point for their concern” (Wreford 1981:1). This is probably a universal concern.

40. Yvonne Tixier’y Vigil and Nan Elsasser (1976) have found that the status of the interviewer is significant when interviewing Chicanas on the sensitive topics of racial discrimination and sexuality. Their Chicana respondents provided lengthier, more forthright responses to the Anglo interviewer—for example, admitting having abortions while denying them to the Chicana interviewer. The authors have suggested that Chicana respondents may feel more comfortable discussing these issues with an Anglo researcher, who presumably would not pass judgment on them, whereas Chicana researchers are part of the cultural system and could pass judgment. Clearly, the perceptions of the researcher are crucial in how informants respond to sensitive issues.

Additional Information

ISBN
9781501720055
Related ISBN
9780801494109
MARC Record
OCLC
1031872406
Pages
xix-29
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-01
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-ND
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