The Italian new wave: Identity work and socialization practices in a community of new Italian immigrants in America
© The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav. The majority of works on language in Italian immigrant communities in the USA concern immigrants of the 19th and 20th century migratory waves and their descendants. There is, however, a lack of studies focusing on the most recent influx of Italians who have migrated to the USA in the last 30 years. They have arrived in smaller numbers, yet in a constant stream and are adding to the ranks of the new generations of Italian Americans. The context of emigration of the two groups is notably different, as is their sociolinguistic background and their linguistic practices in the new context of arrival. The 'new wave' of Italians is intersecting with American society at large and with the Italian American community that preceded them, with which there is a complex relationship. This article focuses on this new wave of Italians, centering, in particular, on the symbolic practices enacted by a group of families who have recently immigrated to the USA, dealing with the language socialization of their American-born children. Drawing from interviews and ethnographic observation, it highlights new immigrants' approach to language maintenance and transmission, and their symbolic practices relied on for identity performance. Identity is viewed through a constructivist lens, as negotiated and performed in interaction (Bucholtz and Hall, 2005, 2008), and language maintenance strategies are analyzed through the perspective of language socialization (Ochs, 1993, 1998; Scheiffelin, 1990). This study expands the discussion on Italian immigrant identity in the USA to include its most recent arrivals and simultaneously broadens the scope of Italian diasporic studies.
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