Adult roles strengthen the skills of children of Latinx immigrants
According to University of Georgia researcher Roberto Carlos, children of Latinx immigrants who assume adult responsibilities exhibit higher levels of political activity than those who do not.
Immigrant communities often display low levels of political engagement, but a new study by Carlos indicates that when the children of Latinx immigrants assume adult roles due to parents’ long working hours, status as immigrant or language impairments, they develop non-cognitive skills associated with higher rates of political participation.
“There are flourishing spaces that one would not necessarily expect due to the challenges of these environments,” said Carlos, assistant professor of political science in the School of Public and International Affairs. “Instead of dismissing groups as inactive or disengaged, we just need to figure out where to look – sometimes in places we generally haven’t looked at – to see how they are participating in the political process.”
Previous research has described non-cognitive skills developed during adolescence that are positively associated with voter turnout. Some of these skills include general self-efficacy, humility, hard work, patience, selflessness, and follow-through.
Language brokerage affects behavior
In the article, published in American Political Science Review, Carlos postulates that taking on adult responsibilities – language brokering, in particular – helps children of Latinx immigrants develop the non-cognitive skills associated with high rates. higher political participation. Language brokerage, when children translate or interpret for parents or other family members, covers the gamut of everyday interactions from a trip to the grocery store to high-stakes situations like hospital visits or interactions regarding immigration status.
“Young people provide these services around the time they are 6 or 7 years old, and my point is that if they can win in these spaces, they will be able to overcome the barriers usually associated with participation. political, ”he added. mentionned. “And it is clear that they do.”
Carlos combined three studies – a survey of Latinx students, a survey of young adults known as GenForward, and a 10-year longitudinal study – to examine how mundane household experiences translate into political engagement.
The Latinx Student Survey found that respondents at the top of the language brokerage ladder are significantly more likely to report political activity: 19% more likely to rally, 12% more likely to attend political meetings and 20% more likely to sign. petitions, compared to the average student in the sample who does not act as a language broker.
The GenForward survey, conducted immediately after the 2016 presidential election, examined the effect of language brokering in the Latinx community and other ethnic groups, including Asian and Black respondents. In the survey, 33% said both parents were immigrants, and of those 33%, more than half (59%) said they served as a language broker for their parents. The results revealed that respondents who acted as language brokers were 11% more likely to talk politics with their parents, 12% more likely to suggest a political party or candidate to their parents, and 7% more likely to engage their parents. political conversations at home with their parents. parents, versus non-brokers.
The impact of household chores
The Longitudinal Education Study, conducted among second year high school students from 2002 to 2012, examined the frequency of household responsibilities. The results revealed that children assigned household chores were 5% to 6% more likely to vote in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and 8% more likely to vote in local and midterm elections than children. who have not assumed any task.
Previous research on the effect of household chore assignment suggests that it is likely weighted according to racial and social class, as children of color and children living in disadvantaged socioeconomic environments are more likely to need to intervene to help. help parents. ELS results indicated that non-white students frequently assigned to household chores were 8% more likely to vote in the 2004 presidential election and 9% more likely to vote in off-year elections, compared to other non-white students. white people who have not taken on tasks.
The largest differences were found in the effect of household chores by grade. Household chore assignment had no influence on those who had at least one parent with a college diploma. But for those whose parents had not graduated from college, taking on household chores meant they were 6% to 8% more likely to vote in local or midterm elections as well as the 2004 presidential elections and 2008, compared to those who did not. on all tasks.
“The frequency of tasks actually has a pretty big impact on the participation rate compared to the traditional influences we think of, like parental education or school status, income and even access to a young person’s newspapers. “said Carlos. “Sometimes these effects go away, but this variable of job assignment is persistent even in midterm elections which typically have low turnout.”
These findings provide new insights into how the cycle of generational political inequalities is overcome in unexpected ways and places. If we can count on these children at a young age to contribute, we should not be surprised that they contribute to society through these participatory channels when they are adults, said Carlos.
Dominant views on political socialization and how people participate gained a foothold in the 1960s, when immigration flows were at their lowest and immigrant communities were not really scrutinized, according to Carlos. . This has led to a mainstream narrative that tends to be largely white and heteronormative – it’s not wrong, but it’s incomplete, he said.
“My question was, what about immigrant communities? There isn’t necessarily any top-down political socialization. Values are, of course, passed down from immigrant parents to their children, but it doesn’t There is not always a clear indication that these values fit perfectly with the American two-party system, especially if you are a new immigrant, ”he said.
“This document emphasizes that we should consider examining other political behavior beyond voting. People who do this type of language brokerage may be unable to vote, but that does not mean that they are not involved in voting. the political process. ”
This research was made possible by funding from the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, the Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Immigration at the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Georgia.