Since the 1990s, scholars have been debating whether second-generation Latinos are heading into the ranks of an “underclass” or remaining working class or moving into the middle class. The bulk of this research has centered on socioeconomic indicators of success. Sociologist Maria Rendon will examine whether and how second-generation Latinos changed their views of success and failure in the aftermath of the Great Recession, with a focus on America’s opportunity structure as they enter their adult years. She will also compare these views to those of their immigrant parents.
The study draws on two waves of data collected on inner-city Latinos and their immigrant parents from two high-poverty neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Forty-two young men, ages 17-23, and their parents were first interviewed in 2007 concerning their neighborhood, social ties, their outlooks and decisions regarding school and work and their perception of success and the American opportunity structure. Half of the sample was re-interviewed in 2012-2013. This follow-up study focused on young men’s and parents’ experiences during and after the Great Recession, their strategies for getting by, and their thoughts on entering the American middle class.