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Bridging Cultural Worlds: Ideologies and Practices Related to Education and Work in two Immigrant Families in Los Angeles

Wendy Klein


Carolina Izquierdo

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 50


While studies of immigrant life examine levels of acculturation and assimilation, much of this work fails to illuminate the various strategies and practices that immigrants engage in to build their lives and socialize their children. This paper draws from interviews and videotaped naturally occurring interactions to analyze how two middle-class immigrant working families in Los Angeles organize their home and work lives and socialize their children into linguistic, educational, and work practices. These working parents and their children are bridging cultural worlds, while integrating elements of their respective cultural heritages with notions of success that are grounded in the local culture. This ethnographic investigation into the everyday lives of immigrant families dispels linear acculturation models and instead reveals the hybridization of practices that draw from notions of cultural capital found in these families’ respective countries of origin as well as those ideologies in their adopted American metropolis. We examine parents’ goals for their children’s future work and educational achievement as well their moral values and cultural orientations articulated in interview and naturally occurring video data. Parent-child interactions illustrate how families bridge cultural worlds through various types of literacy activities, physical exercise, and other daily routines. This ethnographic analysis reveals the importance of studying the home environment to understand the educational and socialization practices in immigrant families.

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