The plural identities of children of mixed couples in Quebec

between transmission, personal choices and social constraints

Summary of the research project:

The main objective of this multidisciplinary research (anthropology, law, gender studies, cinema) is to describe and understand the process of identity construction of the children of mixed couples who have been socialized in Quebec. 

Based on a qualitative approach, it will address the following three research sub-objectives: 1) to document the main choices of children of mixed couples in relation to identity markers transmitted or not by their parents; 2) to examine their sense of belonging; and 3) to identify and study the various elements that have contributed to the process of identity construction (including the impact of social perception and experiences of discrimination and racism, the forms and intensity of their transnational practices and the influence of the gender factor).

The project consists of two complementary methodological stages. Firstly, semi-structured one-to-one interviews are conducted with 70 children of mixed couples aged 18 and over who have been socialized in different cities of Quebec and whose parents are mixed on an ethnic, religious or national level (one parent of Quebec origin and one immigrant parent; two Quebec-born parents, one of whom is of Quebec origin and the other of immigrant origin; two immigrant parents; two Quebec-born parents of immigrant origin). Secondly, cross-references are made by conducting semi-structured interviews with the family members (grandparents/parents/friends) of a dozen of the descendants interviewed. Ethnographic observations will also be carried out within these mixed families.

Despite the recent increase in the proportion of mixed unions, knowledge about children from these unions remains very limited in Quebec as it is elsewhere. The project will create a new knowledge base around the identity construction process of these individuals and the various elements that shape it; in particular, gender, the legal and legislative framework related to the family, experiences of discrimination and racism, and transnational practices that have rarely been studied.  The spin-offs will affect both the scientific community and a wider public (civil society, public institutions, schools, decision-makers, the general public).

At the same time, our Moroccan partners will conduct a similar study with children of mixed couples socialised in Morocco. The comparison of the results of these two studies, conducted in very different contexts, will allow us to highlight the differences and similarities of the two contexts as well as the specificities of the Moroccan context.

Our partnership with the l’institut universitaire SHERPA will enable us to develop awareness-raising tools that will accompany the dissemination of research results in academic circles, and also among public decision-makers, associations, festivals, schools, etc. To summarise, the results of this research (whether in a scientific or artistic format) will enable us to better understand some of the issues and changes that Quebec society is currently experiencing with regard to cultural diversity (immigration) and integration, while providing avenues for reflection and guidance that can be used to help everyone live together better.

*The term child refers here to the position of the individual in the mixed family. It is a definition in terms of generation rather than of age.

This research project is funded by: