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Barrios to BurbsThe Making of the Mexican American Middle Class$
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Jody Vallejo

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804781398

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804781398.001.0001

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Mexican Americans or Coconuts? Middle-Class Minority and American Identities

Mexican Americans or Coconuts? Middle-Class Minority and American Identities

(p.104) 5 Mexican Americans or Coconuts? Middle-Class Minority and American Identities
Barrios to Burbs
Stanford University Press

A comparison of middle-class Mexican Americans from different class backgrounds and generations will reveal the nuances of ethnic identity. According to traditional assimilation theorists, structurally incorporated immigrants and their descendants will exhibit fading patterns of ethnicity and identify with whites, the dominant group. However, the Mexican American middle-class category includes individuals who adopt a variety of ethnic identities, from Latino to American, Mexican, and Mexican American. These socially constructed identities are shaped by class background, a component of ethnic identity that has received little attention. By interacting with whites as well as with coethnics within and outside the ethnic community, especially in the workplace, middle-class Mexican Americans exhibit class and generational differences in ethnic identification that enable others to determine what side of the ethnic boundary they belong. Ultimately, Mexican Americans who were raised in middle-class households will follow a path of linear assimilation and crossing boundaries with middle-class whites. In contrast, those who grew up in poor households and communities will follow a minority pathway into the middle class.

Keywords:   Mexican Americans, middle class, whites, assimilation, ethnic identity, immigrants, class background, ethnicity

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