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Abstract

This article draws on ethnographic research to explore the impacts of the current economic crisis on Mexican migrant families in rural Montana. It looks specifically at the ways rural families negotiate gender roles and expectations as they devise survival strategies in response to major economic shifts. My analysis suggests that traditional gender roles are being transgressed, as migrant women enter wage labor, often for the first time. Simultaneously, gender ideologies are being reinforced, as migrant women struggle to protect men's sense of masculinity by continuing to perform a culturally appropriate gender script. Whereas the paradoxical combination of gender transgression and tradition has been noted within urban migrant families, its dynamics are different in rural contexts. While urban migrants tend to look outward to social networks for support, rural migrants turn inward to their immediate families, strengthening family solidarities.