Migration Dialogues Speaker Series: Dr. Stephanie Canizales

Work Primacy and the Social Incorporation of Unaccompanied, Undocumented Latinx Youth in the United States

Dr. Stephanie Canizales, Assistant Professor | Department of Sociology, UC-Merced


Based on research with undocumented Central American and Mexican young adults who grew up as unaccompanied minors in Los Angeles, I discuss how the pressures of financial obligations to family abroad and their own sobrevivencia (survival) in the US, along with limited financial and social resources, shape unaccompanied, undocumented youth workers’ social incorporation. I show that work primacy conditions youths’ educational opportunities, community embeddedness, and family relationships. Work primacy also limits their ability to establish and maintain social networks, which carries consequences for social incorporation into US society. Though precarious occupations within the secondary labor market—characterized by long hours, low wages, labor market restrictions, and unsafe and unsanitary work conditions—limit opportunities for socioeconomic mobility for all youth, women and Indigenous youth are distinctly affected. Examining the causes and consequences of work primacy is pressing given that globalized neoliberal markets continue to destabilize Latin American nations’ political, social, and economic structures, causing a diversification of global migration flows.


Noon Feb. 25, 2022

Event Contacts