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Vol. 21. Num. 3. 2012. Pages 291-303

Historical, Socio-Cultural, and Conceptual Issues to Consider When Researching Mexican American Children and Families, and other Latino Subgroups

[Factores Históricos, Socio-Culturales y Conceptuales a Tener en Cuenta en la Investigación con Niños y Familias Mexicano- Estadounidenses y de otros Subgrupos Latinos]

Buriel, Raymond

Pomona College, USA

Abstract

In order for the field of psychology in the United States to maintain its relevance and validity, it must become more inclusive in its theory and research of Latinos, who are now the largest "minority" group in the nation. In particular, due to immigration and birth rates, Mexican Americans are the largest and fastest growing segment of the Latino population. This paper addresses some of the most significant historical and socio-cultural factors contributing to the psychological nature and wellbeing of Mexican Americans. These factors should be understood and used to guide research and theory in order to make the discipline of psychology relevant for Mexican Americans. The concept of mestizaje is used to explain the biological and cultural mixing constituting the diverse origins of the Mexican people. Immigration to the U.S. is described in terms of selective socio-cultural variables giving rise to a diverse Mexican American culture that is resistant to complete assimilation. Within a U.S. context, the constructs of generational status, acculturation, and biculturalism are used to explain the socio-cultural adaptation of Mexican Americans. The special role of children in immigrant families as language and cultural brokers are also discussed, and used to explain the adjustment of Mexican American families.

Resumen

Para que el campo de la Psicología en los Estados Unidos siga manteniendo su relevancia y validez, debe incluir en mayor medida, tanto en su teoría como en la investigación práctica, a las poblaciones hispanas, grupo que en la actualidad compone la "minoría" más numerosa de la nación. En concreto, debido a la inmigración y las tasas de natalidad, los mexicano-estadounidenses son el segmento más amplio y de mayor crecimiento dentro de la población hispana. El presente artículo aborda algunos de los factores históricos y socio-culturales más significativos en la naturaleza y bienestar psicológico de los mexicanoestadounidenses. Estos factores deben ser comprendidos y utilizados como guía en la investigación y el desarrollo teórico para que la disciplina de psicología incluya a la población mexicano-estadounidense. Se emplea el concepto de mestizaje para explicar la mezcolanza biológica y cultural que da pie a la diversidad de orígenes de la población mejicana. Se describe la inmigración a los EEUU en base a variables socioculturales selectivas que conforman una cultura mexicano-estadounidense diversa que se resiste a una total asimilación. Dentro del contexto norteamericano, los constructos de estatus generacional, aculturación y bi-culturalismo son utilizados para explicar la adaptación socio-cultural de los mexicano-estadounidenses. También se aborda el papel especial que desempeñan los niños de familias inmigrantes en cuanto al idioma y la cultura y su importancia en el proceso de adaptación de las familias mexicano-estadounidenses.

Keywords

emic developmental issues
immigration
mestizaje
generation.

Palabras clave

componentes émicos del desarrollo
generación
inmigración
mestizaje.
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