My research research examines how immigrant families navigate social and political institutions in their new host society, and connects the areas of immigration; gender and family; race and ethnicity; social stratification; and political sociology. I seek to expand scholarly focus beyond the individual to the role of families and relationships as the context wherein immigrants experience and interact with institutions, the state, and its laws and policies. This approach guides my use of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to converge on how people perceive, understand, navigate, and respond to barriers they face.
This research speaks and contributes to several areas within sociology and migration studies more broadly. First, it adds to our understanding of how immigrants fare in host societies, not only on socioeconomic measures, but on a broader array of social and political outcomes. Building on critical approaches, my work aims to identify how precarity associated with immigration intersects with other dimensions of inequality, especially race, gender, and class. Finally, my work contributes to expanding theoretical and empirical focus beyond the individual to capture how families and relationships contextualize and moderate the impacts of social and political institutions, and, in turn, illustrates how the impacts of social, economic, and political institutions reverberate within the intimacies of home and family.
Immigration policy in the US and elsewhere produces a complex hierarchy of legal and visa statuses that grant different rights, freedoms, and protections to immigrants. Even though these distinctions between immigrants based on visa status significantly shape their experiences, opportunities, and outcomes in their new home countries, visa status is an understudied dimension of inequality. In this research project, I use both quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine how visa policies impact immigrants and their families.
In my dissertation, I use in-depth interviews with immigrants on restrictive visa statuses (such as the F2 and H4 visas, which allow spouses and children of immigrant students and workers to enter the US but restrict spouses from pursuing higher education and paid work) to understand how these immigrants engage in strategies, decision-, and meaning-making around work, family, and future migration trajectories given the restrictions and precarity of their status.
As an extension of this project, I am compiling and visualizing data on visas issued within the US immigration system. This research was supported by the University of Iowa Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio Summer Fellowship in 2020. You can read more about this ongoing digital project in this blogpost → .
In this project, I use survey data to examine how cross-nativity relationships - that is relationships between those of immigrant and non-immigrant backgrounds - shape political and civic attitudes and participation.
In this project, I ask how the covid-19 pandemic is shaping patterns of return migration and highlight the need to examine social and political consequences of these migration patterns during this global crisis.
Munasinghe, Hansini. 2020. “Return Migration During a Pandemic.” In Contexts special issue on Inequality during the Coronavirus Pandemic edited by Rashawn Ray and Fabio Rojas. Article →