Cultural and Identity Transmission in Mixed Couples in Quebec, Canada Normalizing Plural Identities as a Path to Social Integration

Le Gall, J.; Meintel, D. (2015)

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

662(1) | 112-128

Drawing on eighty interviews with mixed couples in Quebec, this article discusses how parents in such unions negotiate strategies of cultural transmission and develop “identity projects” for their children, that is, blueprints for the children’s ethnic identities. Our data show that instead of one person having to take on the other’s culture, and the children adopting that culture, both partners usually embrace cultural differences as enriching for themselves, their children, and the society in which they live. It is not so much a question of transmitting a “heritage” but rather making available a set of virtual cultural resources to the child that he or she will activate (or not) later in life. We argue that through the choices they make, mixed couples contribute to shaping a society where plural identities are normalized. In so doing, they become important agents of social change and participate in the creation of an enduring diversity, a long-term transformation of Quebec society, and even contribute to the multiple meanings of “Quebecois.”