Sociology Faculty Publications and Presentations

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This study examines the role that identity as a racialized minority plays in the life decisions and careers of Mexican Americans three generations after immigration. Life and family histories were obtained from interviews with third-generation adult Mexican Americans and their second-generation parents, from twenty-eight families of varying socioeconomic status. The expressive forms of pan-Latino group consciousness among these US-born Mexican Americans were found to relate to individual and family patterns of social mobility, with those in high-skilled professions more inclined than their working-class counterparts to frame their occupational choices as a commitment to bettering the prospects of poorer Hispanics. Upwardly mobile respondents expressed a sense of "linked fate" with poorer and immigrant Latinos as fellow members of a racialized minority, and this often shaped their career decisions. At the same time, continued engagement with Latino cultures and immigrant communities enabled some middle-class respondents to build unique forms of human, social, and cultural capital that enhanced their career opportunities. Following recent developments in Latino critical race theory, I propose the term "Latino identity capital" to identify the socially constructed resources developed by Mexican Americans as they adapt to their situation as upwardly mobile members of a racialized minority.


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