ERIC Number: ED473204
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2003-Jan
Is Acculturation in Hispanic Health Research a Flawed Concept? JSRI Working Paper.
Ponce, Carlos; Comer, Brendon
Some health researchers have used the concept of acculturation to explain health behaviors or illnesses prevalent among Hispanic people. This paper reviews studies in health, educational, and social science research among Hispanics and argues that acculturation studies are seriously limited by several basic conceptual and methodological problems. First, researchers who set out to measure the concept of acculturation usually presume a distinct "Hispanic culture." However, a vast range of cultures fit under the term Hispanic, encompassing many languages, religions, and customs. Even narrowing a study to a smaller group, such as Mexican Americans, overlooks variety in race, rural-urban origin, class, immigration status, and generation. Beyond the question of appropriate classification of Hispanics is the problem of the comparison group, usually "non-Hispanic Whites," who are similarly diverse. Second, studies of acculturation and health fail to adequately consider socioeconomic differences. Income, social class, educational attainment, and literacy level have large effects on health status, health behaviors and attitudes, and the success of intervention and prevention programs. Finally, a long and worrisome legacy of racism and discrimination is evident in acculturation studies that label as "inadequate" groups or cultures that differ from the undefined American mainstream. If a study of acculturation's influence on a group of people is to be useful, researchers must develop an in-depth ethnographic understanding about that group and not neglect the importance of noncultural factors. (Contains 41 references.) (SV)
Descriptors: Acculturation, Behavioral Science Research, Cultural Differences, Cultural Influences, Educational Research, Ethnic Bias, Hispanic American Culture, Hispanic Americans, Racial Identification, Research Problems, Social Science Research, Socioeconomic Influences, Stereotypes
For full text: http://www.jsri.msu.edu/RandS/research/wps/wp60abs.html.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Michigan State Univ., East Lansing. Julian Samora Research Inst.