Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Family Acculturation, Family Leisure Involvement, and Family Functioning among Mexican-Americans

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Family Acculturation, Family Leisure Involvement, and Family Functioning among Mexican-Americans

Article excerpt

Introduction

According to the 2003 US Census, Hispanics make up 13.7% of the population in the United States and are the nation's largest minority group. Out of those, the majority are Mexican-Americans (US Bureau of the Census, 2003). As the population of Hispanics grows in the United States, a greater understanding of cultural characteristics, basic values, attitudes, expectancies, and social behaviors is needed (Marin & Marin, 1991). Researchers need to consider the "dearth of family research" on minority groups if their "work is to remain relevant to policy makers or professionals who work directly with families and children" (McLoyd, Cauce, Takeuchi, & Wilson, 2000, p. 1083). McLoyd et al. claim that of all family research, about 10% focus on African-Americans with even less examining characteristics of Hispanic families. Of the Hispanic studies, including research on Mexican-Americans, many have examined issues related to acculturation (McLoyd et al.).

Acculturation involves adapting one's culture of origin to that of a new culture, and is seen through behavioral and attitudinal changes (Antshel, 2002; Berry, 1980; Corsini, 1987; Marín & Marín, 1991; Rogler, Cortés, & Malgady, 1991). Dumka and Roosa (1997) suggest that acculturation should not be confused with length of time in a country or generational status, but that it is different for each person or family. The amount of first-hand contact and interaction an immigrant has with services, schools, media, people, and the community in the dominant culture affects their acculturation level. For Mexicans who immigrate to the United States, acculturation is the process of changing their culture to the dominant culture found in the United States.

During the past two decades, studies on acculturation have emphasized the individual adult perspective. Padilla (1980) stated, "the individual has become important in the study of acculturation because we now fully recognize that the individual is crucial in whatever change that occurs through contact between differing cultural orientations" (p. 2). Many scholars, however, consider the family to be the single most important institution among Hispanics (Diaz-Loving & Draguns, 1999; Gil-Rivas, Greenberger, Chen, & Lopez-Lena, 2003; Gonzalez-Forteza, Salgado de Snyder, & Andrade Palos, 1993; Rubel, 1970). Grebler, Moore, and Guzman (1970) suggested that understanding stability and change in the family is critical to understanding any society. Yet, few if any researchers have examined acculturation from the Mexican-American family perspective. Therefore, research examining Mexican-American parent, youth, and family perspectives of acculturation seems necessary.

Review of Literature

Background

Historically, acculturation has been viewed from various frameworks with the most common being assimilation. Assimilation is described by identifying a person on a continuum leading to two possible destinations-either the culture of origin or the new culture being encountered. This theory holds that as immigrants to the United States become more culturally similar to Anglos they lose an equal amount of their culture of origin. Researchers (Buriel, 1993; Marín & Gamba, 1996; Ramirez, 1983; Sabogal et al., 1987) have disagreed with the assimilation theory claiming that individuals can keep characteristics of both the new culture and the culture of origin. They have described acculturation in three stages: low acculturation, high acculturation, and biculturalism. Low acculturation is the guarding or maintaining of the culture of origin with little or no acculturation into the dominant culture. High acculturation is integrating well into the dominant culture while forgoing the individual's culture of origin. Biculturalism is the concept that a person can become acculturated to the dominant culture, but still retains aspects of one's culture of origin. One weakness of past acculturation research, however, is that few if any studies have reported empirical findings operationalizing low, high, and hi acculturation. …

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