The Complexities of Culturally Responsive Organized Activities: Latino Parents’ and Adolescents’ Perspectives

Andrea Vest Ettekal, Sandra D. Simpkins, Cecilia Menjívar, Melissa Y. Delgado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Grounded in bioecological theories, this mixed-method article examines aspects of culturally responsive organized activities. Study 1 used path analysis to quantitatively test relations between ethnic cultural features of activities (ways of integrating ethnic culture) and concurrent experiences (N = 150 Latino adolescents). Findings were mixed, such that some features (e.g., teaching ethnic culture) predicted positive (e.g., increased autonomy) and negative (e.g., emotional) experiences. Study 2 disentangled the nuances of ethnic culture by qualitatively exploring perspectives on three features (N = 34 Mexican-origin adolescent-parent dyads): ethnic cultural content, same-ethnic leaders/peers, and Spanish language use. Thematic analysis revealed the complexities of ethnic culture. Some parents and adolescents wanted activities that represented mainstream American culture; others wanted Latino ethnic culture, but were unhappy with the ways it was integrated into activities. Parents and adolescents thought their ethnic culture was misrepresented (e.g., Cinco de Mayo was celebrated as Mexican Independence Day) or represented narrowly (e.g., La Bamba was the school band’s only Mexican song). Findings suggest that integrating ethnic cultural features is not an “all or nothing” decision, and how it is done matters considerably. Families’ perspectives and voice would help ensure ethnic culture is integrated in authentic, preferred ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-426
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Latino
  • Mexicans/Mexican Americans
  • after-school activities
  • cultural content
  • culturally responsive
  • ethnic culture
  • organized activities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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