Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)

Sunday, January 14, 2007: 8:45 AM-10:15 AM
Marina Room (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
Acculturation and Adaptation in Latino Families: Using Diverse Methods to Investigate Cultural Involvement and Family Processes in the Latino Acculturation and Health Project
Organizer:Paul R. Smokowski, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Costs of Getting Ahead: Mexican Family System Changes after Immigration
Martica L. Bacallao, PhD
Acculturation and Family Adaptation: How Cultural Involvement Influences Cohesion, Adaptability, and Familism in Latino Families
Paul R. Smokowski, PhD, Roderick A. Rose, MS
The Influence of Family Adaptability, Family Cohesion and Familism on Adolescent Problem-Behavior
Flavio F. Marsiglia, PhD, Monica Parsai, MSW
Gender, Gender Identity, and Risk Behaviors of Youth from Mexican Immigrant Families
Stephen S. Kulis, PhD, Ashley Crossman, Tanya Nieri, MA
Abstract Text:
Symposium Overview

The United States is currently experiencing the largest wave of immigration in its history (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). Immigration from Latin American countries is disproportionately driving this trend, making Latinos the fastest growing socio-demographic group and the largest minority group in the nation (Gil, Wagner & Vega, 2000; U.S. Census Bureau, 2003). Compared to non-Latino Whites, Latinos are more likely to be under age 18, unemployed, reside in large family households, and live in poverty (Ramirez & de la Cruz, 2003). Further, many Latino families are adjusting to life in the United States. Forty percent of the Latino population in the United States is foreign born and 52% of this foreign-born group entered the country between 1990 and 2002 (Ramirez & de La Cruz, 2003). These statistics underscore the importance and timeliness of this symposium's topic. With politicians battling over immigration reform on the national stage, it is critical for social work researchers to understand how immigration and acculturation dynamics influence Latino families.

This symposium will examine how immigration and acculturation influences family dynamics and family system traits, and how these traits, in turn, impact adolescent problem behavior. Presenters will bring together diverse methodological approaches, from qualitative network mapping to Hierarchical Linear Modeling to examine Latino family processes and traits. First, a qualitative study will use family systems theory to describe dynamic changes in undocumented Mexican families after immigration. Second, the focus will shift to using quantitative methods to predict family characteristics (cohesion, adaptability, and familism) from a range of diverse cultural involvement variables. The third presentation continues this theme, using the same Latino family characteristics as predictors of an array of adolescent problem behaviors. Finally, the fourth presentation breaks new ground in exploring how family legacies in the form of gender identity predict risk behavior in Mexican immigrant families.

These topics have rich implications for practice, policy, and future research. Acculturation risk factors and cultural assets will be mapped as strong mediating targets for future prevention programming. New qualitative and quantitative approaches to research with Latino families will be discussed. Finally, implications for immigration policy will be put forth.

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