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Latino Youth as Information Leaders: Implications for Family Interaction and Civic Engagement in Immigrant Communities
Unformatted Document Text:  Information Leaders undocumented status of many parents makes them vulnerable to societal rejection and marginalization. Compared to native-born parents, immigrant parents are less likely to model for children civic competencies such as volunteering, media literacy, and electoral activism (Perez, Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, & Cortes, 2010). When youth act as information leaders, the structure of the family changes, with gender equality increasing and children acquiring greater authority. Latino men, however, often experience a crisis of patriarchy. Thus, while sharing of resources helps the immigrant family to adapt and to cope, life-enhancing information can come at the price of heightened tension. Austin and Nelson (1993) note that conflicts between Latino and Anglo culture become salient in family discussion. Values often associated with Latino culture—family ties, paternalism, and respect for authority—are juxtaposed against Anglo- American values that emphasize achievement, change, progress, and individual striving. We might surmise, then, that willingness to share information—rather than access— represents the most fundamental obstacle to the kind of family communication that promotes civic socialization. At issue is the immigrant family’s capacity to accommodate the deliberative dispositions that foster information exchange. Deliberative democracy in normative theory constitutes a longstanding paradigm for evaluating the vitality of public fora (Fishkin, 1996), and in recent decades empirical research has documented a matrix of interconnections among media use, interpersonal communication, and civic dispositions such as trust and efficacy (e.g., Dutwin, 2003). Only recently, however, have scholars pursued deliberative learning as a heuristic for explaining civic development (project, 2006a). The current study represents the first attempt to model interaction in immigrant, Latino families as a manifestation of deliberative development. Deliberative learning refers to a process in which interpersonal communication— 7

Authors: McDevitt, Mike. and Butler, Mary.
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Information Leaders
undocumented status of many parents makes them vulnerable to societal rejection and 
marginalization. Compared to native-born parents, immigrant parents are less likely to model for 
children civic competencies such as volunteering, media literacy, and electoral activism (Perez, 
Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, & Cortes, 2010). When youth act as information leaders, the 
structure of the family changes, with gender equality increasing and children acquiring greater 
authority. Latino men, however, often experience a crisis of patriarchy. Thus, while sharing of 
resources helps the immigrant family to adapt and to cope, life-enhancing information can come 
at the price of heightened tension. Austin and Nelson (1993) note that conflicts between Latino 
and Anglo culture become salient in family discussion. Values often associated with Latino 
culture—family ties, paternalism, and respect for authority—are juxtaposed against Anglo-
American values that emphasize achievement, change, progress, and individual striving.
We might surmise, then, that willingness to share information—rather than access—
represents the most fundamental obstacle to the kind of family communication that promotes 
civic socialization. At issue is the immigrant family’s capacity to accommodate the deliberative 
dispositions that foster information exchange.  
Deliberative democracy in normative theory constitutes a longstanding paradigm for 
evaluating the vitality of public fora (Fishkin, 1996), and in recent decades empirical research 
has documented a matrix of interconnections among media use, interpersonal communication, 
and civic dispositions such as trust and efficacy (e.g., Dutwin, 2003). Only recently, however, 
have scholars pursued deliberative learning as a heuristic for explaining civic development 
(project, 2006a). The current study represents the first attempt to model interaction in immigrant, 
Latino families as a manifestation of deliberative development.    
Deliberative learning refers to a process in which interpersonal communication—
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