Wilkinson, L. (2010). Inconsistent Latino self-identification in adolescence and academic performance. Race and Social Problems.
vol. 2 (3-4) pp. 179-194
Research has documented important connections between ethnic identity and academic success. In the multiethnic context of the US, ethnic self-identification is a dynamic process that develops through social interaction within institutions. Understanding the emergence of a Latino self-identity within schools can provide insight into the meanings adolescents confer to a “Latino” identity and the relationship between a Latino self-identity and academic success. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine (1) the association between a Latino self-identification in-school but not at home and academic well-being, (2) the association between a Latino self-identification in-school but not at home and school processes, and (3) whether school processes help to mediate the relationship between Latino self-identification in-school but not at home and academic well-being. Results suggest that while adolescents who identify as Latino at school but not at home come from families and neighborhoods with higher levels of economic and human capital, by the end of high school they have accumulated less educational capital then either consistently identifying Latinos or non-Latino whites. Much of this association can be explained by prior academic experiences, yet other factors associated with resistance to institutional norms and attending low performing schools may also be important. Results suggest that non-minority, underachieving adolescents may choose to self-identify as Latino in schools as a way to save face and avert identity crises and that perhaps youth in schools have come to associate a Latino identity with poor school performance.
Race and Social Problems