A qualitative exploration of Latino immigrant integration in the rural Midwest : long-term resident and immigrant perspectives
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Data from the 2010 Census indicate that between 2000-2010, the most significant Latino population growth occurred in the South (57% increase) and Midwest (49% increase). Much of this increase is due to the migration of immigrants from urban areas to suburban and rural communities. Much of the extant literature on Latino immigrant integration focuses on urban areas and only accounts for the immigrants' perspective. The current study employs qualitative research methods to better understand the context of immigrant reception in rural Midwest settings from the perspective of both the long-term community residents and the Latino immigrant newcomers. The work is situated within a social constructivist paradigm, utilizing the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework and Interactive Acculturation Model. Focus groups were conducted with 28 participants (11 long-term community residents, 17 Latino immigrant newcomers) in a small farming community. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Findings include six general themes which were contextualized using Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Framework (1979): physical location and community resources, endorsement of personal values and beliefs, perceptions of their community's atmosphere, perceptions of people within their community, unique personal experiences within the community, and suggestions for community improvement. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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