Sonal H. Soni

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This purpose of this study was to explore how second-generation (defined in this study as immigrants' children born in the United States or brought here under the age of ten with their parents and raised in the United States) Asian Indian American women understand, negotiate and perform gender roles. In particular, the study examined the dating rituals and practices of second-generation Asian Indian women in order to ascertain how these women have understood messages about dating from their parents, friends, the broader dominant culture and other sources to construct their gender identity. It also examined how Asian Indian ethnic identity is tied to the notion of gender. Twelve second-generation Asian Indian American women were interviewed who's age ranges were between the ages of 19 to 29. The sample age range was chosen because adolescence and young adulthood in the United States marks an important moment for engaging in questions of identity. The thesis argues that the notion of gender is inextricably linked to the ideas of nation, culture and ethnicity. Mainstream culture in the United States, the parents of second-generation Asian Indian women and the Asian Indian community each in its particular way offer essentialized versions of the authentic "Indian" woman. Second-generation Asian Indian women are able to construct a narrative of their identity around gender, nation, culture and ethnicity with which they are relatively comfortable and which represents their own understanding of their place in society.


iii, 87 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 77-80).