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Work Life and Identity Issues in Hispanic Youth Are Focus of Study


Education is the primary route to security for children of ethnic minorities, a University of Arizona professor concludes in a study that his publisher says is the most-extensive ever done on Hispanic youth.

Dr. Julio Cammarota, an assistant professor in the UA’s Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology and the Mexican American Studies and Research Center, wrote Suenos Americanos, Barrio Youth Negotiating Social and Cultural Identities,( $39.95, University of Arizona Press, July 1, 2008, ISBN-10: 0816525935, ISBN-13: 978-0816525935.) It is based on his observations and extensive interviews of youth living in “El Pueblo,” the name he gives to the barrio along the California coast where he conducted his research.

“In my research I found that education is a primary route to rewarding employment and economic security,” Cammarota said. “And that education is particularly significant for the future prospects of children who are ethnic minorities, were born into disadvantaged economic circumstances, or are dealing with language barriers.”

From 1993 to 2000, Cammarota interviewed and observed 40 youth between the ages 17 to 24 and selected six of the youth to investigate in depth for Suenos Americanos, according to the publisher.

UA Press said Cammarota’s analysis and interviews of Hispanic youth define the complex relationships among low-wage employment, cultural standards, education, class oppression and gender expectations.

Cammarota observed 20 participants who worked at a fast-food restaurant and 20 others working a community cultural center to investigate how working affects education and how the youth maintained ethnic identities while attempting to transcend marginalization.

The book also looks at how gender influences social relationships and life choices, reasons why young Hispanics work hard for their families and for a better future and  connections and disconnections among work, family and school, UA said.

Before coming to the UA in 2002, Cammarota received his doctoral degree in social and cultural studies from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001.

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