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CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR ACHIEVEMENT The Roles of Family, Acculturation, Social Class, Gender, Ethnicity, and School Contexts

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Intergenerational relations in immigrant families are managed and shaped within divergent contexts of reception and incorporation, and with divergent sets of resources and vulnerabilities. Still, after taking into account the objective circumstances within which children of immigrants are coming of age – such as their parents’ socioeconomic status, family structure, peer networks and school contexts – there remains substantial and unexpected variance in the children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal responses. This paper explores these dimensions of their adaptation process: the ways they perceive their relationships with their parents and families, their school experiences and work discipline, their sense of self-worth, and the way they imagine and project their educational and occupational adult futures. That mix of psychosocial factors, in turn – especially experiences, attitudes, beliefs and expectations about education – can mold motivation and achievement, an analysis of which then follows. The data for that analysis come from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), the largest study of its kind to date in the United States. The study has followed the progress of a large sample of teenage youths representing 77 nationalities in two main areas of immigrant settlement in the United States: Southern California and South Florida.

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