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Becoming Bicultural

Risk, Resilience, and Latino Youth

Paul Smokowski, Martica Bacallao

Publication Year: 2011

Although the United States has always been a nation of immigrants, the recent demographic shifts resulting in burgeoning young Latino and Asian populations have literally changed the face of the nation. This wave of massive immigration has led to a nationwide struggle with the need to become bicultural, a difficult and sometimes painful process of navigating between ethnic cultures.

While some Latino adolescents become alienated and turn to antisocial behavior and substance use, others go on to excel in school, have successful careers, and build healthy families. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data ranging from surveys to extensive interviews with immigrant families, Becoming Bicultural explores the individual psychology, family dynamics, and societal messages behind bicultural development and sheds light on the factors that lead to positive or negative consequences for immigrant youth. Paul R. Smokowski and Martica Bacallao illuminate how immigrant families, and American communities in general, become bicultural and use their bicultural skills to succeed in their new surroundings The volume concludes by offering a model for intervention with immigrant teens and their families which enhances their bicultural skills.

Published by: NYU Press

Front Matter

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p. vii


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p. ix


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p. xi

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p. xiii

The authors wish to thank Flavio Marsiglia, Ph.D., Distinguished Foundation Professor of Cultural Diversity and Health, and Monica Parsai, Ph.D., both of Arizona State University, for their work coordinating data collection in Arizona. Melissa Chalot, M.P.H., and Rachel Dudenhausen, M.S.W., provided project management. Special thanks go

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1. From Melting Pot to Simmering Stew: Acculturation, Enculturation, Assimilation, and Biculturalism in American Racial Dynamics

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pp. 1-28

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States. Although he was heralded as the first African American to serve in the highest and most powerful position in the nation (and perhaps in the world), President Obama’s cultural heritage was more subtle and complex. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to an ...

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2. Enculturation after Immigration: How Latino Family Systems Change and How They Stay the Same during the Diffuse, Bifurcated Stage of Acculturation Contact

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pp. 29-58

Most of the research on Latino immigration, acculturation, and adjustment has been conducted with adults, leaving us with scant information on adolescents and even less on family relationships (Garc

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3. From Contact to Conflict: How Assimilation Mechanisms Underpin the Exploration and Adaptation Stage in Bicultural Development

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pp. 59-99

Few symbols capture the ambivalent nature of U.S. immigration policy better than the Statue of Liberty. The statue was conceived as a gift from the people of France to mark the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. However, the unveiling in 1886 was ten years later than planned, largely due to lack of public financing. The statue of ...

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4. Balancing between Two Worlds: The Integration Stage of Bicultural Development

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pp. 100-129

Figure 4.1 shows Juana’s cultural map. The drawing illustrates her conflict and confusion about living between cultures. Her worlds are bifurcated, separate, and difficult to reconcile, representing a lower level of bicultural identity integration. Over time and with effort, this becomes easier for most bicultural adolescents as they navigate between the cultural ...

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5. Cultural Adaptation Styles and Health: Risks of Staying Separate or Assimilating

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pp. 130-163

In chapters 2 and 3, we took an intimate look at the dynamics of culture-of-origin involvement within the immigrant family’s home and host-cultural involvement outside of home. Staying separate or assimilating both posed different challenges for immigrant adolescents. In this chapter, we consider how these different cultural adaptation styles are related to ...

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6. The Benefits of Biculturalism: Savoring the Flavors in the Simmering Stew

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pp. 164-185

... culture-of-origin and U.S. cultural identity) are the most advantageous for cultural adaptation (LaFromboise, Coleman, and Gerton 1993). Bicultural individuals are those with moderate acculturation levels who have successfully internalized two cultures, that is, both cultures are alive inside of the person. Many bicultural individuals report that their internalized ...

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7. Entre Dos Mundos / Between Two Worlds: A Bicultural Skills Training Prevention Program to Help Immigrant Families Cope with Acculturation Stress

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pp. 186-216

A growing body of research has suggested that — in the absence of prevention and intervention services — many Latino adolescents and adults are at risk for alcohol and drug use, aggressive behavior, and mental health problems (Rogler, Cortes, and Malgady 1991; Vega et al. 2000; Rounds-Bryant and Staab 2001; Gonzales et al. 2002; Centers for Disease ...


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pp. 217-232


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pp. 233-238

About the Authors

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814708798
E-ISBN-10: 081470879X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814740897
Print-ISBN-10: 0814740898

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 794698893
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Becoming Bicultural

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Assimilation (Sociology) -- United States
  • Hispanic Americans.
  • Biculturalism -- United States.
  • Minority youth -- United States.
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