A Mixed Methods Approach to Examining Mexican-Origin Adolescents’ Use of Ethnic-Racial Labels in Neighborhood Contexts

Michelle C. Pasco, Rebecca M.B. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We employed a mixed method design to describe Mexican-origin adolescents’ ethnic-racial label usage in the context of ethnically/racially segregated neighborhoods. Data come from three sources: 26 semistructured interviews with 14 Mexican-origin adolescents (mean age = 15.43, SD = 1.22), 64.3% female, living in neighborhood environments predominated by Latinos; neighborhood (N = 9) data from the U.S. Census Bureau; and systematic social observations of neighborhood block faces (N = 256). Using Key-Word-In-Context analysis, we found that adolescents used a variety of labels to describe themselves and members of their ethnic-racial group while discussing the strengths and challenges associated with their residential neighborhoods. Semistructured interview themes included adolescents’ references to cultural and social resources within neighborhoods, neighborhood challenges, ethnic-racial biases, and normative developmental processes. We examined label usage across interview themes and neighborhood characteristics derived from the census and systematic social observation data. Two triangulated findings emerged: (a) diversity in ethnic-racial label usage in the context of neighborhood resources and (b) greater restriction to the use of panethnic labels in the context of neighborhood challenges. Our study suggests that adolescents may be internalizing messages and symbols in their neighborhoods in ways that have implications for their ethnic-racial labeling and identity development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-520
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Keywords

  • Latinos
  • adolescence
  • community/neighborhood
  • mixed methods
  • race/ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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