Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Beatriz Padilla, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Aranda, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Heidi Castañeda, Ph.D.


Social Ties, Symbolic Ties, Transnational Social Fields, Transnationalism from Below


Drawing upon participant observations and semi-structure interviews with 10 Puerto Rican grassroots organizers from the Tampa Bay area of Florida, this project examines the processes by which Puerto Rican diaspora members build, maintain, and utilize social and symbolic ties as resources for organizing and executing grassroot projects and campaigns with a dual focus on the Puerto Rican community in the Tampa Bay area and in Puerto Rico. Complex webs of interlocking social and symbolic ties that transcend region of origin and regions of destination constitute a transnational social field, within which exchanges of ideas, practices, and resources are organized among families, groups, and networks, and networks of networks (Glick Schiller, Basch, and Blanc-Szanton 1992a; 1992b; Levitt and Glick Schiller 2004). Through thematic analysis, this study unpacks the ways social and symbolic ties with Puerto Rico have shaped participants’ reactions and responses to Hurricane María in Puerto Rico. While participants with strong social and symbolic ties to Puerto Rico tended to focus on grassroots responses that had direct impacts in Puerto Rico, participants who held only strong symbolic ties to Puerto Rico tended to engage in local grassroots responses to the influx of evacuees from the Island arriving in the Tampa Bay area. Moreover, social and symbolic ties that constitute transnational social fields also served as channels through which concerns about disasters in the homeland were manifested, decisions to help those affected were made, exchanges of resources to those in need were organized, and long-term responses were developed.