Networks and Context of Reception in Accumulation Strategies of Latinos in Rural Communities of the Midwest - A Quantitative Analysis
Migration patterns of Hispanics changed dramatically in the 1990s from large metropolis to rural towns (Lazos and Jeanetta 2002). Migration patterns have also changed, from temporary and male to permanent male and female settlement, in rural areas of the south and the Midwest (Hernandez 2005). The heartland of rural America is experiencing demographic changes that are unprecedented in both their fast pace and diversity they bring to otherwise uniform areas. According to the 2000 Census, Hispanic?s earnings are low, and Hispanics live in homes in which multiple adults work full time and have low skills and limited English proficiency (Hernandez 2005; NCLR 2004; Gibbs, Kusmin and Cromartie 2005). For change to be beneficial and sustainable for every community today and for future generations, the integration process must be based on sound research. Although the challenges faced by education, health care and other service delivery systems are well-documented (Gozdziak & Martin 2005), our attention turns to the assets or capital Latinos bring with them as they settle. Recent developments in the cultural identity literature view culture as a resource from which individuals draw to create strategies to function in various domains of society (Berry 2003). This new orientation shifts us away from a deficit model for thinking about how individuals of different cultures gain and lose in the process of integration to recognizing the multiple ways individuals can adapt in new and ever-changing environments without suffering loss of identity in the process. We focus on what the newcomers offer and how we can engage them in the future development and prosperity of the new settlement communities. A model of capital, capabilities and strategies is developed informed by the sustainable livelihoods framework. The sustainable livelihood strategies model incorporates social and cultural capital into an examination of strategies newcomers employ to accumulate assets, minimize their vulnerability to risk exposure and become part of their new communities. The model accounts for the community climate as a proxy for context of reception in new settlement regions and identifies how it impacts strategies? outcome. Output from focus groups of men and women and photovoice, our qualitative research techniques, informs social and cultural capital constructs in three distinct regions of a Midwestern state. Income impacts of acculturation strategies, social capital, cultural capital and human capital are measured through their regression on income earnings of native and foreign born Latinos. Results provide lessons for policy.