The United States of America is a unique country indeed. Unique, powerful, modern, advanced in so many arenas. Compared to other countries of similar size and population, America easily overshadows in technological advances, education and legal systems. However, because our great nation is relatively young compared to that of other countries who have been established since the dark ages, what we have have in power and resources, some would argue we also lack in culture and history.
At its origin, America’s birthright was intended to be forever known as the Melting Pot of many nations. A land where all races, creeds and nationalities could come to achieve their dreams, live without fear of persecution and create families in peace. Principally, America truly was the land of opportunity. Not for some, but for all. However, since the recent millennium and throughout its bicentennial history one might argue that several races and peoples have struggled more than others and have been barred from the same opportunities as others.
One of these groups of people most apparently, and recently limited from achieving their dreams are those persons from a Hispanic background. Although, this is not a new thought that just occurred since this presidency seat. Hispanic turmoil has been around since the dawn of this country. During the Mexican American War of 1848 Hispanics and Americans waged war with each other over territories in the South. This inevitably led to racial prejudices and social inequalities. During the Great Depression Mexican Migrant Workers felt the woes of poverty and the sting of racism harder than whites in the 1930s.
“World War II affected the U.S. labor market in countless ways, but in the farms of the South and West, the impact was perhaps most visible when harvest time arrived. With American workers off fighting and therefore hard to come by, Mexican farm workers were brought to the U.S. as legal guest workers known as braceros.” Though the Bracero Program was originally created with lady liberty and the chance of social freedom in mind it ended up creating stigmas that Mexican workers were only capable of completing manual labor and at lower than minimum wages. The promise of success caused Mexican migrants to lead lives that were not much better than the ones they would have had if they stayed in their homeland in the first place.
These ongoing time stamps throughout our nation’s history of struggle for Hispanic population has crippled their success in maintaining success and achieving their dreams. Though Hispanic population is almost three-fourths majority in many major cities such as San Antonio, El Paso, Los Angeles they are still considered the minority because of their lack of power and political standing to implement change. Language barriers, poverty, teen pregnancy, illegal immigration status, lack of education and healthcare are all social issues that greatly affect Latinos today. In comparing Bicultural Socialization theory and Transcultural theory an exploration of their benefits and deficits to creating change in society today will be accomplished throughout this paper.
“Early theories of bicultural conflict suggested that conflicting cultural norms left minorities with a deficit in socialization. Rather than becoming fully socialize into either culture, they were seen as marginal people who straddled both worlds and were incompletely socialized into either.” Bicultural Socialization Theory suggests that minority groups, in this case Latino populations have such a hard time assimilating to American society because they walk the fence in their home life with their family system and in their social system life as an American. While at home, many Hispanics speak only Spanish, eat only native food, listen to only Spanish music, and watch only Spanish television.
This is the heart of their culture. They also participate predominantly in Catholicism which can alter one’s lifestyle significantly. While in the workplace, at school or in their communities these same persons are expected to drastically change their personal habits and behaviors. They are expected to being to blend in with American Society. The expectation is for them to speak and read English, know American culture, eat American food, and have an American understanding of pop culture. Hispanics often feel ridiculed or judged when out in their communities and they are unable to appropriately blend in as to expectations. Thus, they choose rather to create subcultures within America where they feel more comfortable and at ease with who they are.
They move to barrio neighborhoods where they can buy, sell and trade goods and services amongst themselves. They open Hispanic businesses where they can spend their free time such as restaurants, disco techs and community centers with soccer leagues. When White Americans filter into these establishments their often welcome as patrons by the owners, but it is obvious that they are one of few people who don’t match that Hispanic norm. That person would essentially stick out and be the minority within the subculture that this population has created.
“Human beings create their own social worlds and evolve further within them. Adapting to the new environment, to the new knowledge, and to new technology, we learn a way of life within our society. We invent and share rules and patterns of behavior that shape our lives and the way we experience the world around us.” Applying Bicultural Socialization theory to social work practice is essentially appropropriate when providing resources and assistance to any clients from a Hispanic background.
For example, if a social worker is treating a Hispanic, teenaged, female who just found out she was pregnant and has a college scholarship that she is supposed to use in the fall. The client would essentially be the first in her family to ever attend college. This is important to her. She is very smart and very involved in her community and her family. The client values her education but also her family and their opinion. She has yet to tell anyone about her current situation. As her social worker you would need to have an understanding of Bicultural Socialization theory in order to properly understand the pressures she is feeling from both subsystems; her family and her American culture around her.
Her social worker would need to treat with empathy in helping her explore her options. She has already stated that abortion is against her beliefs as a Catholic and has ruled that out. She also feels that her family would have negative judgements toward her for putting the baby up for adoption. Because most Catholics have a strong disbelief against contraceptives she never thought she would be in this predicament. Unfortunately, teenage pregnancy is all too common in Latin youth. After weeks of contemplating what is best for her and her family your client decides the best option is for her to loop in her mother and father in hopes that they will help her raise her baby while she continues her education after high school. Hispanics have a very strong sense of family and it is not uncommon that most home have multiple family units residing inside.
The strengths of Bicultural Socialization theory in this scenario would be that it allows you to view the person from both perspectives of the pressures they feel from their subsystems. This theory also allows you to look naturally at the minorities cultural lenses and assist with solution focused practice. The theory itself is composed in a comprehensive manner and is easily relatable to many circumstances and individuals. It’s concepts are relatively clear and exceptionally logical. The theory is supported by empirical evidence and much research has been done to comprise the thoughts of past sociologist and psychiatrist who have interacted with this theory. If, as a social worker, the case manager has any interaction at all with a minority group or vulnerable population this theory would most definitely be put to good use in social practice.
Some weaknesses that Bicultural Socialization theory presents are that it lacks in human diversity. This theory also does not allow for treating the person holistically. It mainly allows treatment through sociocultural manners and lacks emotional, spiritual, physical aspects. If for some reason the case managers reach into social work practice is limited to a population of people that are not affected by a minority group, it would be unlikely as well that one might utilize Bicultural Socialization theory.
Secondarily, Transcultural theory would be another viewpoint to treat the Hispanic population. “Transculturality means that a person is able to relate respectfully, comfortable and competently in many different cultural contexts, while appreciating both differences and commonality. This is more than just a master of technical skills or a recognition of pancultural or universal human characteristics.” Transcultural theory explores a person’s ability to take their own culture and become fully absorbed in it while at the same time remaining with an open mind and unending tolerance to another person’s culture. The person who undertakes Transcultural Theory as their ethos believes wholeheartedly in the age old saying, “There is no right or wrong answer”, only what one believes and that it is right to them. Transcultural theory promotes acceptance, tolerance and essentiality of empathy.
In using Transcultural theory as it relates to the Hispanic population, this would be more rare due to the fact that most Hispanics are fairly uniform in their beliefs and their cultural aspects. However, once assimilation has occurred, and the Hispanic population has grown a feeling of comfort with a new culture, or perhaps many cultures. They begin to broaden their horizons and their scope of beliefs has now expanded past what it originated from.
For example, if a Hispanic male felt as a boy that his only options for work as an adult would be construction worker, farmer, or drug dealer and he goes to school in a public, predominantly Caucasian school district he would be offered the same opportunities as they would be and thus his beliefs on limitation for occupation would be dissolved. Now, all of the sudden, he feels the possibilities would be limitless. He could study medicine and become a doctor, or study law and become a lawyer. He could still be a construction worker if he chooses, but now he knows through Transcultural theory that theirs is more than one road to success and more than one belief system to a partake in.
“In addition the center circle, ‘The Center Point of Unity’, is the position that unites diverse cultures simultaneously. Achieving transculturality means being aware of this common human connecting point within oneself and being able to relate to others from this center.” When reading this, one concept that comes to mind instantaneously is the Olympic Games. Even during times of war, famine, economic tensions, nations come together to represent their country along other nationalities who feel pride in participation of nations. The Olympic Games is the ultimate representation of transculturality. Accepting and honoring one another’s culture while still maintaining your own beliefs with respect and openness.
Take into consideration a Hispanic male client that a social worker has been treating who struggles with depression and anxiety. The caseworker has been meeting with this client off and on for two years and has made much progress. As a Hispanic male he was born in Mexico and came to America with his mother as a young child. He remembers little of Mexico but still honors his Mexican heritage that is celebrated in his home by his parents and siblings. He entered America as a Dreamer, but has yet to obtain official citizenship despite efforts. He has been in school and had a hard time continuing his education and maintaining work due to his diagnosis. Without completing school he could lose his Dreamer status and be at risk for being an illegal alien in the United States. He does not want to return to Mexico because this is the only life he knows.
In one of the social workers sessions with the client he reveals that he has met a new girlfriend. She is an Anglo- United States citizen and he feels like their relationship could be getting more serious. He has not yet introduced her to his parents because he feels they would prefer he marry a girl of Hispanic heritage. He and his family have been devout Catholics since he can remember and his girlfriend was raised in a Baptist church. He knows that should they decide to marry he would have to ask her if she was willing to convert to Catholicism. He fears approaching this subject with her could push her away. The client himself does not find it important that they marry in a Catholic church but he knows his parents would prefer that. He does not want to risk disappointing them.
The social worker decides to utilize Transcultural theory in a solution based practice to assist with the clients issues and concerns. In using this theory, the social worker assists the client with finding a tolerance for both his culture and the new culture he is being submerged into by his newfound relationship with his American girlfriend. They work together on unity of the cultures and explore how marriage is a melding process of two backgrounds, two histories, two subcultures and creating a new one. Once final acceptance is achieved, transculturality has taken place. At this point, the client can lead by example and show his parents how accepting one can be of other cultures and still maintain their own beliefs as a Hispanic.
Strengths of Transcultural theory are fairly obvious in that it promotes diversity, acceptance and spiritual growth. The theory has very high quality and is elevated by such thorough research from cultures all around the world. The Lakota tribes, Native Americans, Chinese and many other cultures have endeavored to study and explore Transcultural theory and take on its principles as the natural state of their society. This theory has clear concepts and is highly logical. The values of this theory are ones that any nation or creed can learn to accept and abide by.
In not learning acceptance of others cultures is what stems wars, damage, economic turmoil and racial prejudices amongst a peoples. The thought that one race is superior or should overpower another is an ancient way of thinking that dates back to slavery that the Egyptians imposed on the Israelites, then again in the later centuries what Caucasian peoples inflicted upon African nations. The concept that liberated the country of these poisons was in and of itself Transcultural theory.
This theory would be simple to use in social work practice today. In fact, every single client a case worker comes in contact with will come with their own web of culture, personal beliefs, social history, customs and behaviors. Though they may seem unnatural or foreign to some, they will require the use of Transcultural theory in order to fully treat the person as a whole and effectively manage to meet their goals. Goal setting in general is based on culture. Without using this theory the case worker’s sessions or efforts would be futile.
Some weaknesses regarding Transcultural theory is that again, it lacks perspective for treating each client in a holistic manner. This theory focuses on the spiritual and sociocultural needs of the client and neglects the emotional, or physical aspects of the holistic model. Another weakness could potentially be if the client, after many attempts is still unwilling to allow Transcultural theory to mentor and change the way they think or belief and are resistant to tolerance and acceptance. This theory then, would not be appropriate in treating that client.
“Transculturality can be especially challenging to achieve with regard to spiritual diversity, since many people invest their religious beliefs and worldviews with a sense of ultimate truth and authority that might exclude or denigrate other. Transculturality involves a commitment to honoring one’s own cultural and spiritual standpoint and also honoring others.” This further explains the weaknesses of Transcultural theory in that if one’s culture or religion is a diesim in which the absolute rule is there can only be one path to God, those religions leave little room for divergence from the path to spirituality.
In comparing both Bicultural Socialization theory and Transcultural theory as it relates to working with Hispanic population, it seems the more relevant and natural theory would be Bicultural Socialization theory. This theory happens without much efforts and also would be more commonly found amongst the population. However, Transcultural theory, though requiring much more effort to achieve, could stem much more noticable results. Because of the spiritual component that Transcultural theory has a Bicultural Socialization theory lacks, the social worker is able to access another component of the whole person and not just treat their sociocultural needs. However, both lack the biophysical and psychological aspects of the holistic model.
Both theories could apply well to any minority culture, not just Hispanic population. This is another strength that both theories possess. “Differences in appearance, abilities, parentage and social heritage are God’s special frames to highlight and amplify his unique message.” (Gothard, 1993). This refers to a minority’s culture and experiences not limiting their path to spirituality or whoever they consider God to be. Rather, God uses the many differences that He Himself created in individuals to further their growth and the expansion of the church. Hispanics are generally a family oriented, religious centered, hard working culture. These are all principles that most other cultures can easily adapt to and accept.
In social work practice the best method would be to integrate both theories in problem solving and goal setting for the client. If the case worker chose to only utilize one theory and neglect the others, their progress of the individual would be severely crippled. Activating Transcultural theory alone would allow the client to become more tolerant of others beliefs but if that is totally off focus from the problem the Hispanic population is experiencing then success would be extremely limited. In dealing with Hispanic population it would seem that almost one hundred percent of the time, the caseworker will have relevance and success using Bicultural Socialization theory because of the integration that Hispanics all endure in totality when assimilating to American culture. This theory would be invaluable when tackling any issue from healthcare to job opportunities
In actuality the best process would be to use not only both of these theories but a variety of theories in treating our clients. Especially utilizing theories that allow the client to be treated using a universal holistic, individualized approach. Because neither of these theories allow for the person to be treated holistically, it would be essential to include theory work that would allow for the psychological, emotional, physiological and biological needs of the individual to be considered when diagnosis and treating clients.
In conclusion, America has taken many great leaps and bounds to rid itself of its prejudices and racial inequalities. This year alone we have elected more minorities than ever before into political seats of power. This is an obvious outcry from the people that we believe in forward progression of social justice. Though sometimes, it is easy for one to feel defeated by quotes and acts of our nation’s leader and people of power that symbolize hate and racism to a specific minority, more often than not, Hispanic population. One cannot dwell on these negative manifestations of social media. It is not who your nation’s leader is that defines one’s beliefs or the way one treats another. The beautiful thing about America is that we are a free democracy and we have the right to believe what we want and speak whatever truths we identify with.
Though many Hispanics do not get to say the same thing due to their immigration status, they can still adopt our concepts and values as their own. They can grow and learn and seek tolerance just as we can. The Hispanic population in this country unfortunately will continue to face injustices until our social policies reflect advocacy for them. Whether left or right, the country will require a vote for the human rights of people, regardless of their naturalization certificates. They are still human beings who have rights to asylum, protection, peace and freedom for torture and abuse.
This country was intended to be a new age Melting Pot, a variety of cultures, colors, religions, values, backgrounds coming together with a common goal. To allow all people to enter the Land of Opportunities and achieve their goals in life. Who better with to start then our neighbors to the south. Mexico, Central America, South America alike, our Hispanic neighbors face many tribulations in their home countries that American born citizens cannot even fathom. Acceptance, tolerance and patience is the way that social workers alike will lift these barriers of cultural identity and allow all to be treated equally.
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