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“Look at my house!” Home and mobile home ownership among Latino/a immigrants in Florida

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Home starts by bringing some space under control.

(Mary Douglas 1991, p. 289)

Abstract

This article investigates an understudied topic, namely the meaning of owning a mobile home among first- and second-generation Latino/a immigrants in the USA. In mainstream North American culture, living in a mobile home is stigmatized and not typically associated with membership in the middle class. However, in this paper, I argue that Latino/a research participants, individually and collectively, construct a counter-narrative in which mobile home ownership functions as a symbolic marker of upward social mobility and personal success. I conclude that investigating the meaning of mobile home ownership within the context of immigration facilitates new insights regarding the conceptions of home and home making in general. The paper is based on an analysis of 22 in-depth interviews conducted in four mobile home parks near Florida’s Central Gulf Coast. These interviews, completed between 2008 and 2010, were part of a larger study on issues of identity, community, and disaster in Florida mobile home parks.

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Acknowledgments

I owe much gratitude to my Co-Investigator Beverly Ward and our excellent graduate student researchers Juan Ruiz and Marc Hebert, as well as the many other University of South Florida graduate and undergraduate students who have assisted with this research over the years. I thank Pierette Hondagneu-Sotelo and Peter Ward for their kind help in locating relevant literature, as well as the anonymous reviewers and volume editors for providing very detailed and helpful feedback on earlier drafts. This research was supported by NSF Grant #0719158 awarded in 2008.

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Correspondence to Margarethe Kusenbach.

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Kusenbach, M. “Look at my house!” Home and mobile home ownership among Latino/a immigrants in Florida. J Hous and the Built Environ 32, 29–47 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-015-9488-8

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