Mexican Americans Across Generations

Immigrant Families, Racial Realities

314 pages

April, 2011

ISBN: 9780814788295



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Jessica M. Vasquez is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon.

All books by Jessica M. Vasquez

Outstanding Academic Title from 2011 by Choice Magazine

While newly arrived immigrants are often the focus of public concern and debate, many Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans have resided in the United States for generations. Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, and their racial identities change with each generation. While the attainment of education and middle class occupations signals a decline in cultural attachment for some, socioeconomic mobility is not a cultural death-knell, as others are highly ethnically identified. There are a variety of ways that middle class Mexican Americans relate to their ethnic heritage, and racialization despite assimilation among a segment of the second and third generations reveals the continuing role of race even among the U.S.-born.

Mexican Americans Across Generations investigates racial identity and assimilation in three-generation Mexican American families living in California. Through rich interviews with three generations of middle class Mexican American families, Vasquez focuses on the family as a key site for racial and gender identity formation, knowledge transmission, and incorporation processes, exploring how the racial identities of Mexican Americans both change and persist generationally in families. She illustrates how gender, physical appearance, parental teaching, historical era and discrimination influence Mexican Americans’ racial identity and incorporation patterns, ultimately arguing that neither racial identity nor assimilation are straightforward progressions but, instead, develop unevenly and are influenced by family, society, and historical social movements.


  • “This is a very important contribution to the burgeoning issue of how Mexicans will and have integrated into American society. The material is very rich and shows many complexities and barriers that stand in the way of assimilation.”

    —Edward Telles, co-author of Generations of Exclusion: Mexican Americans, Assimilation, and Race

  • "This meticulously researched, well-written book, rich in ethnographic analysis, makes a significant contribution to immigration, race/ethnicity, and policy studies"

    —D. A. Chekki, Choice

  • "Jessica M. Vasquez's Mexican Americans across Generations: Immigrant Families, Racial Realities is a thoroughly engaging consideration of the family histories of middle-class Mexican Americas in the United States."

    —Ana Elizabeth Rosas, American Anthropologist

  • "Greatly advances our understanding of the integration process of the Mexican-origin group in the United States"

    American Journal of Sociology