Latina Biculturalism: An Exploratory Study of Culture, Family, and Self in the Lives of New York-Based Latinas

2011 2011

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

Based on interviews with thirty 1.5 and second generation Latinas from the New York City metropolitan area, ages 18 to 32, the concept of "biculturalism" is explored. Using a number of models (hybrid identities, identity conflict, and others) the study found that these women's experiences are known and narrated through their life stories as arenas of conflict and struggle as well as competence and success. The conflicts they report involve their roles as daughters who, while remaining loyal to their families and cultures of origin, are seeking to break away and discover themselves as liberated members of U.S. society. This study also found that these women's cultural conflicts foster self-criticism and introspection and push them toward success, rather than toward the mental health problems reported in the current debates around biculturalism. The women in this study tell stories in intensely emotional terms about the difficulties and conflicts of everyday life with mothers, boyfriends, friends, school, and work. They describe their lives as full of peace and speak with pride of the life choices they have made.

From their stories, three relatively important findings emerged. First, in the lives of these women, there is no clear link between biculturalism and mental health problems. Second, exposure to both American and Latin American cultures seems to have provided these women with an appreciation for both family closeness and care-giving as well as a motive to achieve education, economic independence, and the continual re-examination of the social norms of their two cultures. To be bicultural, for these women, is to stand outside of one culture and use it as a framework for challenging the norms of another, a skill that provides resilience and strength. Finally, in spite of the years of conflicts and stresses that might have harmed them, they tell us that they are resilient, that their strong family ties and their sense of independence have operated as protective factors. These Latinas represent a type of person underrepresented among both academic studies and popular images: the successful and well-functioning "bicultural" Latina.

Indexing (details)

Womens studies;
Individual & family studies;
Hispanic American studies;
Metropolitan areas
0453: Womens studies
0628: Individual & family studies
0737: Hispanic American studies
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Biculturalism; Family; Latina; Mental health; New York City; Resilience; Second-generation immigrants
Latina Biculturalism: An Exploratory Study of Culture, Family, and Self in the Lives of New York-Based Latinas
Nieves, Dinorah
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 72/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
McCarthy, E. Doyle
Fordham University
University location
United States -- New York
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.