Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Elizabeth Aranda, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Vaquera, Ph.D.


childrearing practices, children of immigrants, cultural capital, Hispanics/Latinos, race and ethnicity


This thesis examines the discursive messages and specific practices that Latino families use to transmit messages about culture, race, and racism. Scholars have not fully explored the complexity and range of practices and discourses that are involved in Latinos’ ethno-racial socialization. The use of the phrase “ethno-racial socialization” is important because it combines the concepts of racial socialization and ethnic socialization in an effort to account for how the lived experiences of Latinos who mostly think of themselves as a racial group, are treated as one race, and thus, discuss race with family members. This research explores this process using twelve in-depth, semi-structured interviews with seven U.S. born children of immigrants between the ages of 18-30 and five of their parents (3 immigrant, 1 migrant, and 1 U.S. born). The immigrant families were middle-class and had at least one parent that was born in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, or Puerto Rico.

To theoretically ground the project, I draw on Annette Lareau’s concepts of concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth, which are two major frames to describe how middle-class and lower-class families socialize their family members. I apply this framework to strategies of ethno-racial socialization and develop through the concepts of ethno-racial concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth, which, I argue, respectively correspond to ‘explicit’ and ‘implicit’ socialization approaches to conveying messages about culture, race, and racism. I argue that ethno-racial concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth stand in opposite ends of a continuum of approaches to instilling messages related to race and ethnicity. In some cases, the strategies can be mutually reinforcing because a practice that can be considered ethno-racial concerted cultivation can create opportunities for the accomplishment of natural growth to occur (and vice versa). Intra-familial differences in how family members socialize their children mean that they receive diverse and at times contradictory messages about culture and race from different family members such as parents and extended family members. The differences in how family members use ethno-racial socialization strategies are further heightened due to the experiences of the family member (such as their maintenance or rejection of immigrant culture and experiences with racial discrimination or lack thereof) and family structure (such as the varying messages children receive in single-parent households with extended family members living in the home, two-parent households, and households with transnational family ties).

The young adults who were consistently exposed to encouraging and empowering messages that implicitly or explicitly emphasized a sense of commitment, belonging, and identity to the ethno-racial group experienced the most positive outcomes, some resulting in cultural capital, such as: racial literacy, preparation for bias, ethnic/racial identity, language skills, access to co-ethnic networks, cosmopolitanism, social flexibility, and social capital (in the form of familial capital). The young adults who did not receive consistent messages or who received messages that promoted anti-blackness or erased the importance of their immigrant family’s culture experienced some of the following outcomes: limited racial literacy, ambiguous ethno-racial identity, limited Spanish skills, limited access to co-ethnic networks, and parent-child conflict.

Overall, this research illustrates how ethno-racial socialization in Latina/o families does not easily fit into one discrete model of socialization, but rather is a complex, multi-layered interplay of mechanisms that draw on both ethno-racial concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth approaches. This interplay also brings sometimes conflict due to the various and, at times, opposing messages that children receive from different family members.

Included in

Sociology Commons