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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cultural Values and Family Experiences in Diverse Ecological Contexts: Implications for Social Change

  • Author(s): Park, Heejung
  • Advisor(s): Greenfield, Patricia
  • Lau, Anna
  • et al.

Ethnic minorities and members of non-Western societies are considered to hold a strong sense of family obligation, which shapes behaviors and relationship characteristics. Ethnic and national group differences must be reconciled with an understanding of how economically driven transformation of learning ecologies also shape child and adolescent development worldwide. I investigated how diverse socioeconomic characteristics may shape the learning ecology that promotes cultural values (Study 1, 2, 3), daily behaviors (Study 3), and parent-child relationships (Study 3). In Study 1, I interviewed 115 children and mothers in rural Korea, urban Korea, and immigrant communities in Los Angeles, to assess familistic values. European American families from Los Angeles served as a reference group to disentangle the role of heritage culture and learning ecology. Koreans in urban Korea and European Americans in Los Angeles did not differ in familism, suggesting that urbanization may reduce East-West value differences. While the traditional value appears to lose relevance in urban Korea, Korean immigrants were more familistic than European Americans, suggesting promotion of familism in immigrant communities. Furthermore, nuclear family residence and higher education level predicted lower familism. Given that cultural learning begins early on, Study 2 tested whether parental valuation of childrearing goals is predicted by individual and national socioeconomic standing. In this study, data from 227,431 parents from 90 nations were included. Individual socioeconomic status predicted greater likelihood of personal valuation of independence and less valuation of obedience as childrearing goals; national socioeconomic characteristics predicted greater national popularity of independence and lower popularity of obedience at the nation-level. In Study 3, I tested how values shape daily behaviors and family relationship characteristics in 872 Vietnamese adolescents in rural Vietnam, urban Vietnam, and urban U.S. Family obligation values were still reinforced in urban Vietnam compared to rural Vietnam, but the values manifested in academic pursuit in urban Vietnam. Family obligation values shaped parent-child relationship characteristics in urban U.S. immigrant households. Vietnamese American adolescents with higher sense of family obligation reported less conflict with parents. This dissertation contributes to scholarship by unpacking the contributions of heritage culture and socioeconomic development worldwide.

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