RSF Visiting Scholar Jessica Vasquez Publishes Article on Immigrant Assimilation

by
Rohan Mascarenhas, Russell Sage Foundation
October 7, 2011

Jessica Vasquez, a sociologist at University of Kansas, has published an article entitled "The Bumpy Road of Assimilation: Gender, Phenotype, and Historical Era" in the latest issue of Sociological Spectrum. Drawing on data from 67 in-depth interviews, Vasquez advances assimilation theory by examining the power of three factors: gender, phenotype, and historical context. She explains in the introduction of her article: 

My research makes two important interventions: First, due in part to gender and skin color, multigenerational immigrant families assimilate along a 'bumpy-line' (Gans 1992). Many later-generation women who were wives and mothers were inclined toward ethnic retention, as were Mexican Americans with dark skin who were regularly identified by others as Latino/a. Lighter skinned people, especially women, oriented toward assimilation, in part because they faced less strict negative stereotypes than their darker skinned and male counterparts (Vasquez 2010). Second, historical context profoundly shapes life experiences. Accordingly, inter-generational family communication reveals shifts in racial climates. In particular, men who were Vietnam veterans engaged in ethnic politics and political/civic assimilation upon returning from wartime military service. My study demonstrates that among Mexican-origin families, there is a diversity of pathways that lead to eventual structural assimilation and middle-class status.

Read the full article here (subscription required). As a Visiting Scholar at RSF, Vasquez is studying whether and to what extent Latino intermarriage with non-Hispanic whites facilitates the adoption of an 'American' identity and integration into the mainstream for both parents and children. Her first book, Mexican Americans Across Generations, was released this year.

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