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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Guess who’s coming to dinner now?: perspectives on interracial relationships Johl, Valgeet


Ethnomethodological studies have analyzed everyday activities with an intent to make those activities “visibly-rational-and-reportable-for-all-practical-purposes” (Garfinkel: 1 967). In that tradition, the current study offers an analysis of a seemingly unconventional pattern in mate selection that is based upon data collected through participant observation of, and unstructured interviews with interracial couples. The research suggests that greater frequency of contact between individuals of different racial backgrounds is likely to generate larger numbers of interracial relationships. This is in large part due to the fact that under such circumstances individuals become more aware of their similarities, and less conscious of the differences between them. The findings also suggest that the variables of age, geographic location of the couple, the relative socio-economic status of the couple and their family and friends, as well as the degree to which the individuals and their families have assimilated to Western traditions affect not only the success or failure of interracial relationships, but also the nature of the reactions that their relationship is likely to elicit. In the process of presenting and illuminating the findings the study incorporates discussion on the topics of mate selection options, actual choices, the couples’ interactions interpersonally, as well as with family, friends and the larger community, and portraits of interracial couples in various forms of media. In addition, a series of appendices are provided, listing specific media portraits of these couples, existing support groups serving this community, and an account of the researcher’s personal relationship to the field.

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