This chapter, drawing on the author’s previous ethnographic research in the United States and Mexico, suggests how researchers should examine substance abuse among transnational Mexican farmworkers. The advocated prospective is centered on the use of critical ethnography to examine this social problem and argues for the ethnographic method in gathering needed qualitative data. Critical ethnography allows for exploring the relationship between the subordinate status of the transnational migrants in the United States (as non-citizens and, at times, undocumented workers) and problem drinking. Factors in Mexico that may predispose transnational farmworkers to drinking in the United States are also considered in this research approach. Specifically, there are three objectives. The first is to introduce a migrant status paradigm, based on the critical ethnography perspective, that includes the migrants’ emic view of drinking and considers problem drinking a consequence of their foreign-worker status in the United States. Causes behind this crisis in both the United States and Mexico—respectively, situational (e.g., living conditions and social isolation) and predisposing (family history of drinking and community drinking norms) factors—are considered. The second aim is to identify obstacles in studying substance abuse among migrants. The discussion addresses how transnational migrants, as a hard-to-study population, pose serious methodological challenges, and how the U.S. agricultural industry, as a suspicious and reluctant collaborator, makes this type of research difficult. The third objective is to establish research strategies that address a range of obstacles. The recommendations developed from this research include using the ethnographic method and collaborating with the agricultural industry.
Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline
© 2007–16 Indiana University of Pennsylvania
1011 South Drive, Indiana, Pa. 15705 | 724-357-2100