Remaking America: Latin American Immigration and Hispanic Ethnicity in the United States soc 245: 01 Mondays and Wednesdays, 2: 30-4pm

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Remaking America: Latin American Immigration

and Hispanic Ethnicity in the United States

SOC 245:01

Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30-4pm

Professor: Dr. Elizabeth Durden

Office: Coleman 202

Office Hours: Mondays 11-2 and also by appointment

Email Address:

Course Description

This course is a general introduction to Latin American immigration to the United States and more specifically, Hispanic ethnicity within the United States. You should leave this class having a strong foundation in how sociologists approach the study of immigration and the Hispanic experience within the United States. We will explore the most significant theoretical approaches to the sociological study of immigration. The first half of the course will explore the United States as an immigration nation both in its past and present. Are the current waves of Hispanic immigration (and the xenophobic response to them) simply a continuation of preceding immigration eras or is “something new” occurring? We will also explore the heterogeneity of the varying Hispanic immigrant groups in the United States as well as issues of assimilation, transnationalism and Hispanic identity. The second half of the course will explore the diversity of experiences by Hispanic in U.S. social institutions – specifically, the family, religion, education and the economy, health, and government.

Course Objectives

The primary objectives for this course are:

  • To address immigration and Hispanic ethnicity from a demographic and sociological perspective

  • To become familiar with a variety of Hispanic experiences within the United States

  • To continue to develop and hone critical thinking skills by participating in class discussions and completing writing assignments

  • To gain experience in intimate academic reading by analyzing and grappling with sociological texts

  • To cultivate research proficiency and expertise by undertaking a semester-long research paper that involves primary sociological texts, the incorporation of a strong thesis and multiple drafts

Course Format

This course will be conducted as a mid-level seminar course. While I will provide the background material and lecture, it is the responsibility of each student to come to each class prepared to contribute.
Reading for class is essential. Our classroom discussions will be built around assigned texts, and each student is expected to contribute to the intellectual community of the classroom. Preparing for class should involve reflecting upon the reading that is due. The reading we tackle in this class is substantial and moves at a very quick pace. You need to prepare yourself for a challenge – especially in the first half of the semester.

Course Texts

The following texts can be purchased in the Bucknell Bookstore. Please bring the necessary book to class when assigned.
Peggy Levitt. 2001. The Transnational Villagers. University of California Press.
Douglas Massey, Jorge Durand and Nolan Malone. 2002. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration. Russell Sage Foundation.
Richard Rodriguez. 1982. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. New York: Bantom Books

The following articles can be accessed via Blackboard under the Course Materials Link. Please bring the necessary articles to class when assigned.
Alba, Richard. 2006. “Mexican Americans and the American Dream,” Perspectives on Politics 4 (2): 289-96.
Alba, Richard and Victor Nee. 1997. “Rethinking Assimilation Theory for a New Era of Immigration.” International Migration Review 31(4):826-874.
Baca Zinn, Marxine and Barbara Wells. “Diversity within Latino Families” Pp 420-445 in Families in Transition edited by Arlene Skolnick and Jerome Skolnick, 14th Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Baca Zinn, Maxine and Angela Y. H. Pak. 2002. “Tradition and Transition in Mexican-Origin Families” Pp. 79-100 in Minority Families in the United States, edited by Ronald L. Taylor. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Press.
Baca Zinn, Maxine. “Chicano Men and Masculinity”. Pp. 87-97 in Men’s Lives, edited by Michael S. Kimmel and Michael A. Messner. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
Carrasquillo, Hector. 2002. “The Puerto Rican Family” Pp. 101-113 in Minority Families in the United States, edited by Ronald L. Taylor. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Press.
Durden, T. Elizabeth and Robert A. Hummer. 2006. “Access to Health Care among Working Aged Hispanic Adults in the United States” Social Science Quarterly Vol 87 (5): 395-419.
Espinosa, Gastón, Virgilio Elizondo and Jesse Miranda. 2003. “Hispanic Churches in American Public Life.” Interim Reports. Institute for Latino Studies of the University of Notre Dame. Vol. 2002.3
Farley, Reynolds, and Richard Alba. 2002. “The New Second Generation in the United States.” International Migration Review 36(3): 669-701
Feagin, Joe. 1997. “Old Poison, New Bottles: The Deep Roots of Modern Nativism.” Pp13-43 in Immigrants Out! The New Nativism and the Anti-Immigrant Impulse in the United States. New York: New York University Press.
Fraga, Luis R. and Gary M. Segura. 2006. “Culture Clash? Contesting Notions of American Identity and the Effects of Latin American Immigration.” Perspectives on Politics 4(2): 279-287.

Hagan, Jacqueline and Helen Rose Ebaugh. 2003. “Calling upon the Sacred: The Use of Religion in the Process of Migration.” International Migration Review Volume 37 (4):1145-1162.

Hirschman, Charles. 2005. “Immigration and the American Century.” Demography 42(4): 595-620.
Huntington, Samuel. 2004. “The Hispanic Challenge.” Foreign Policy March/April: 30-45.
Landale, Nancy S., R. S. Oropesa and Bridget K. Gorman. “Migration and Infant Death: Assimilation or Selective Migration among Puerto Ricans?” American Sociological Review 65(6): 888-909.
Lopez-Gonzalez, Lorena, Veronica C. Aravena and Robert A. Hummer.2005. “Immigrant Acculturation, Gender and Health Behavior: A Research Note.” Social Forces 84(1):581-593.
Massey, Douglas S. 1999. “Why does Immigration Occur? A Theoretical Synthesis.” Pp. 34-52 in The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience, edited by C. Hirschman, P. Kasinitz and J. DeWind. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Massey, Douglas. 2004. “Book Review: Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identify.” Population and Development Review 30(3): 543-548.
National Research Council. 2006. “Multiple Origins, Hispanic Portraits” Pp. 19-33 in Multiple Origins, Uncertain Destines: Hispanics and the American Future, edited by Marta Tienda and Faith Mitchell. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
Pedraza-Bailey, Silvia. 1985. “Cuba’s Exiles: Portrait of a Refugee Migration.” International Migration Review. 19(1): 4-34.
Pérez, Lisandro. 2002. “Cuban American Families” Pp. 101-113 in Minority Families in the United States, edited by Ronald L. Taylor. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Press.
Raley, Kelly, T. Elizabeth Durden and Elizabeth Wildsmith.Understanding Mexican-American marriage patterns using a life-course approach.” Social Science Quarterly 85(4):872-891(19)
Rieff, David. 2006. “Nuevo Catholics.” New York Times Magazine, December 24, pp. 40.
Smith, James P. 2003. “Assimilation across the Latino Generations.” The American Economic Review 93(2): 315-319.
Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo and Mariela M. Páez. 2002. “Introduction: The Research Agenda”. Pp. 1-37 in Latinos: Remaking America. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Valenzuela, Angela. 1999. "Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring," Pp. XXX in Reflexiones 1998: New Directions in Mexican American Studies. Austin: Center for Mexican American Studies, University of Texas, 1999.
Vasquez, Jessica M. “Discrimination, Resistances, and Consolidation of Identity: A Generational Analysis of Mexican Americans” Revise and Resubmit at Social Problems.
Waters, Mary C. 1999. “Sociology and the Study of Immigration.” American Behavioral Scientist. 42(9): 1264-1267.
Zhou, Ming. 1997. “Segmented Assimilation: Issues, Controversies and Recent Research on the New Second Generation.” International Migration Review 31(4):975-1008.

Course Requirements

Two Exams 60% (30% each)

Research Paper 15%

Response Paper to Walking Tour OR Book Review 15%

Reading Responses 10%
Two Exams: Each exam will consist of two parts --- an in-class short answer exam and a take home essay. The in-class portion of the exam will cover key aspects of assigned readings and class discussions. Questions will concern issues of employed methodologies, central arguments being made the scholars, key findings, strengths and weaknesses of each monograph, and how each monograph advances our understanding of race/ethnicity.
The take-home component of the exam will ask you to critically examine aspects of the covered readings. A question of interest will be distributed, and the essay will have a 6 page requirement. You have 4 days to complete the take home essay. Computer explosions are not considered my problem.
Each essay exam paper must be typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font with 1 inch margins. Each paper must be 6 pages. Please note that you must abide by this page limitation. It will force you to synthesize your reflections and be succinct in your writing.
Late papers will **NOT** be accepted. The essay exam is due as stated on the distributed assignment.
Do NOT push me on this.
Research Paper: To cultivate your knowledge of sociological research and to allow you to pursue research in a specific area of interest, each student will be writing a short research paper. The research paper has a page requirement of 6-7 pages and must incorporate 7 traditional academic sources (a combination of journals and academic monographs). Your research paper must include a thesis, and it will be graded on organization, inclusion of academic texts and grammar.
A series of assignments have been created to facilitate your success – including a draft which will be graded. Please see the syllabus for specific due dates. In addition, a grading matrix of the research paper has been developed and attached to this syllabus. This will give you a very clear idea of how your research paper will be evaluated.

Response Paper to New York Walking Tour OR Book Review: On Saturday, March 24th we will take a field trip to NYC to participate in a Big Onion Walking Tour exploring Latino and neighborhood history of East Harlem. Big Onion Walking Tours “explore the many layers of history that make up the fabric of our city.” Conducted by graduate students of Columbia and New York University, these walking lectures are historically and sociologically grounded. We will take a bus early Saturday morning, arriving for a 10:30am tour that will last until 1:30. The Department of Sociology and Anthropology will cover the cost of the bus, as well as the tour. However, each student will cover the cost of his or her lunch at La Fonda Bourica.
A 3 page reflection paper will be due after the tour.
If a student is not able to attend the Walking Tour, in lieu of the reflection paper, a 5 page book review must be completed. An appropriate book (a list will be provided by me) must be chosen, read and critically reviewed.
Reading Response Papers: In order to get the most out of the reading list for this course and to make the best use of our classroom discussion time, you will periodically be asked to write a reading response. Each student will sign up for four different articles to critically review (this will be done the first week of class). You will record important selections from the readings and explore those selections in writing. Each response is expected to be 2-3 full pages, double spaced. Additionally, you will be considered the ‘expert’ for that reading and will be expected to lead the class in discussing and analyzing your assigned paper.
These journal assignments will assist you in your essay exams by forcing you to analyze and grapple with the sociological texts. Please note that these are not exercises in simply summarizing the assigned readings. Instead, you must critically respond to the ideas being presented. Your critical review will be collected in class on the due date.
***No late Reading Response Papers will be accepted***
At times, you may also be asked to reflect on a specific question and bring it to the next class. These spontaneous assignments are not listed on the syllabus but are still requirements for this class.

Calculating Grades

The final grades will be computed as follows:
A 94-100

A- 90-93

B+ 87-89

B 84-86

B- 80-83

C+ 77-79

C 74-76

C- 70-73

D 60-69

F 59 and below

A very kind tip: if you are having trouble in this course, please come see me sooner rather than later. Sooner: there is a chance we can work together to make things better. Later: there is an excellent chance that you will be stuck with a lower grade than you would like.
Please do **NOT** ask me to give you a higher grade than you earned because you are on academic probation or you need it to maintain a scholarship or you have any other special circumstance. Please do **NOT** ask for a B because you need to get into business school. I do not give grades; rather, you earn the grade you receive.
Please note that I am happy to meet with you to discuss the best ways to write your papers and tackle lab assignments. However, coming to see me and working on an assignment does not guarantee you an A or even a B. It may be that the assistance I provide ensured that you earned a C and therefore saved you from getting a D.
One last note on grades: ‘C’ is “Average.” A grade of a ‘C’ indicates that a student has completed the assignment in an ordinary manner. In all likelihood, the assignment probably does not meet all requirements but is not so deficient as to warrant a ‘D’ which is, of course, below average. In contrast, a ‘B’ signifies that the assignment being graded was merely sufficient in its completion. All requirements were fulfilled. (Yes, even though “all requirements were fulfilled,” this does not automatically lead to an A). A grade of an ‘A’ on any assignment means that the student went beyond the requirements to present an interesting sociological insight, or a high level of synthesis of course material, which reflects sophisticated analysis.

Academic Integrity

From Bucknell’s policy on academic responsibility --- “Bucknell students are responsible to the academic community for the preparation and presentation of work representing their own individual efforts. Acceptance of this responsibility is essential to the educational process and must be considered as an expression of mutual trust, the foundation upon which creative scholarship rests. Students are directed to use great care when preparing all written work and to acknowledge fully the source of all ideas and language other than their own.”

Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, academic misconduct, or misuse of computing facilities will not be tolerated. All incidents of which will be reported to the appropriate Associate Dean to be vigorously pursued in accordance with Bucknell’s Academic Responsibility policy.

Please review the new Bucknell web resources on Academic Responsibility at

Let me be clear.

If I find that you have downloaded any part of your research paper, you will fail the course. It is an insult to me, to Bucknell, and to whoever is paying for your college education that you would attempt to simply coast by in college.

Let me be even clearer --- even ‘acknowledging’ where a source comes from, and then continuing to plagiarize the content will guarantee you a failing grade. If you are unclear on what constitutes plagiarism, I encourage you to go to the Writing Center or come see me. We are all happy to help you. However, I will fail any student who is found plagiarizing in my class. Tears and excuses after the fact will not save you.

Miscellaneous Stuff

I have done my best to take religious observances into account in the planning of this course. I may, however, have missed something. If so, please let me know two weeks in advance so we can make alternative arrangements if necessary.
Please turn off all cell phones, pagers, and whatever else you have that beeps/rings/sings before you come to class.
Talking about immigration and ethnicity can be difficult. Immigration is a topic that often brings about much debate. Certain issues may spark strong feelings and disagreements. It is important that we each maintain respect for opinions other than our own. I ask you to honor the following guidelines during our discussions:

  1. Demonstrate your respect for another by honoring the contributions each student makes

  2. I ask that students refrain from using “zaps,” overt or covert put-downs

  3. Please avoid linking personal experiences to a generalizing stereotype (either negative or positive) concerning any group of people

Along that vein, I will never penalize a student for having different opinions than my own. However, I will penalize a student for not approaching situations sociologically and, instead, relying on simplistic examples or illustrations. We will all work together over the semester to approach race/ethnicity from a sociological perspective.

Please Respect My Need to Research

I love students, especially when they stop by to chat. Please do so, no appointment is necessary. In fact, you must stop by in the next month to better introduce yourself. As the semester progresses, come by to discuss any questions, comments or ideas you have about sociology, a specific assignment or grading concerns. Also, feel free to stop by to discuss the latest college football game or pop culture occurrence. In all seriousness, please take advantage of office hours, email, etc.
However………. I ask that you respect a no-drop by on Thursdays. Professors are expected to maintain an active research agenda in addition to teaching brilliant undergraduates at Bucknell. Thursdays are the days that I devote to exploring emerging Mexican immigrant communities in Pennsylvania, the indigenous migrant flows between the Yucatan and San Francisco and the incorporation of Hispanic subgroups into the health care system of United States. I am therefore not available on Thursdays throughout the entire semester.

Each student is required to write a 5-6 page research paper. The topic of your research paper MUST come from the list below. Only two students are allowed to write on each topic. You must email me your top three research topics by Monday, January 29th. I will abide by a first come, first served policy. Once the research topics are divided up, you are required to write your paper on the topic you receive.
Each research paper must incorporate 7 academic sources, and 3 of those sources must be articles from the attached list of sociology journals. This will force each student to become familiar with the leading journals in the discipline of sociology. What is meant exactly by academic sources? It means peer-reviewed journals and mainly books published by academic and reputable presses. If you have any questions about your sources, please feel free to contact me or the professionals at ISR and the Writing Center.
Before you choose a topic, I highly encourage you to do some preliminary research – quickly scan the databases and see what information is available. This is an easy way for you to match your interests with what scholars are discussing in the current literature.
Research Topics

  1. Explore the emergence of Mexican immigrants in non-traditional receiving areas (such as the American South)

  2. Explore the epidemiological paradox of Hispanic populations within the United States

  3. Explore the participation of Hispanics in the U.S. political system

  4. Explore the role of remittances and hometown associations in transnational Mexican communities

  5. Discuss the pros, cons and impact of ESL programs in America’s schools

  6. Explore the flows of Cuban migrants into the United States and their impact on the social, economic, political and cultural life of Miami Florida

  7. Explore the reasons for Salvadoran immigration to the United States

  8. Explore the importance of taking into account gender when studying Hispanic immigration

  9. Explore the history and impact of the Immigration Control and Reform Act policy (provided amnesty to over 1 million undocumented immigrants)

  10. Explore the Mexican American labor leader Cesar Chavez

  11. Explore the impact of Hispanic immigrants on the U.S. economy

Grading Rubric Used for Research Paper



Excellent (9-10)

Good (5-8)

Fair (1-4)

Introducing the idea: The topic is introduced, a thesis is clearly evident and groundwork is laid as to the direction of the paper.

10 points

Body: The research paper goes from general ideas to specific conclusions within each paragraph. Transitions tie sections together, as well as adjacent paragraphs. Each paragraph clearly ties back to the thesis

20 points

Coverage of Content: The appropriate content in consideration is covered in depth without being redundant. Sources are cited when specific statements are made.

30 points

Organization and Clarity of Writing:

The research paper must have a clear introduction with a thesis, main body with major points, and a conclusion

Writing is crisp, clear, and succinct. The writer incorporates the active voice when appropriate. The use of pronouns, modifiers, parallel construction, and non-sexist language are appropriate.

20 points


summarizes key points, connects to introduction

10 points


All needed citations were included in the report. References matched the citations, and all were encoded in ASA format.

10 points

General Comments:

Course Schedule
Date Topic Readings Due Assignment Due
Wednesday January 17: Introduction to the Course Waters “Sociology and the Study of Immigration”

Setting the Historical Context

Monday January 22: Explaining International Migration Massey “Why does Immigration Occur? A Theoretical Synthesis”

Massey et al Beyond Smoke and Mirrors (Chapter Two)

Wednesday January 24: America’s Immigration Past Hirschman “Immigration and the American Century” RESEARCH

Huntington “The Hispanic Challenge” TOPIC DUE

Monday January 29: America’s Immigration Present

Feagin “Old Poison, New Bottles: The Deep Roots…”

Massey “Book Review: Who Are We? The Challenges to

America’s National Identify”

Fraga and Segura. “Culture Clash? Contesting Notions of American Identity

And the Effects of Latin American Immigration.”

Heterogeneity in Hispanic Immigration

Wednesday January 31: What is meant by “Hispanic” Anyway? National Research Council “Multiple Origins, Hispanic Portraits” Suárez-Orozco and Páez “Introduction: The Research Agenda”

Monday February 5: Heterogeneity in Hispanic Immigration Flows Massey et al Beyond Smoke and Mirrors (Chapter 3)

Wednesday February 7: Heterogeneity in Hispanic Immigration Flows Pedraza-Bailey “Cuba’s Exiles: Portrait of a Refugee Migration.”

Assimilation, Transnationalism and Identity

Monday February 12: Assimilation and its Discontents Alba and Nee “Rethinking Assimilation Theory RESEARCH PAPER

for a New Era of Immigration” LIST OF SOURCES

Zhou “Segmented Assimilation: Issues, Controversies” DUE

Wednesday February 14: Evidence of Assimilation? Smith “Assimilation across the Latino Generations”

Alba “Mexican Americans and the American Dream”

Farley and Richard Alba “The New Second Generation

in the United States.”

Monday February 19: Transnationalism

Wednesday February 21: Transnationalism Levitt The Transnational Villagers Introduction-Chapter Two

Monday February 26: Transnationalism Levitt The Transnational Villagers Chapters Three-Five

Wednesday February 28: Transnationalism Levitt The Transnational Villagers Chapters Six-Conclusion

Monday March 5: IN-CLASS EXAM


Wednesday March 7: Transnationalism

Monday March 12: ***NO CLASS SPRING BREAK***
Wednesday March 14: ***NO CLASS SPRING BREAK***

Monday March 19: Issues of Identity Rodriquez Hunger of Memory Prologue-Chapter Three

Wednesday March 21: Issues of Identity Rodriquez Hunger of Memory Chapters Four-Six

Vasquez “Discrimination, Resistances, and Consolidation of Identity: A Generational Analysis of Mexican Americans”

**Saturday, March 24*** Field Trip to New York City

Big Onion Walking Tour: Past and Present Latino Neighborhoods of New York

Hispanics in U.S. Social Institutions

Monday March 26: Research Day – Class Canceled

Wednesday March 28: Family and Gender Baca Zinn and Wells. “Diversity within Latino Families” WALKING TOUR

Baca Zinn and Pak “Tradition and Transition” PAPER DUE

Baca Zinn “Chicano Men and Masculinity”
Monday April 2: Family and Gender Raley et al. “Understanding Mexican-American marriage

patterns using a life-course approach

Carrasquillo “The Puerto Rican Family”

Pérez, Lisandro “Cuban American Families”

Wednesday April 4: Religion Rieff “Nuevo Catholics.”

Espinosa et al. “Hispanic Churches in American Public Life”

Monday April 9: Religion Hagan and Ebaugh “Calling upon the Sacred: The Use of RESEARCH PAPER

Religion in the Process of Migration” DRAFT DUE

Wednesday April 11: Education and the Economy Valenzuela "Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican Youth

and the Politics of Caring"

Previous Readings tackling issues of Economic Integration of Hispanics

Monday April 16: Education and the Economy

Wednesday April 18: Health and Medicine Landale et al ““Migration and Infant Death:

Assimilation or Selective Migration among Puerto Ricans”

Lopez-Gonzalez et al “Immigrant Acculturation, Gender and Health

Behavior: A Research Note”

Durden and Hummer “Access to Health Care among Working-Aged

Hispanic Adults in the United States”

Monday April 23: Health and Medicine

U.S. Politics and Policy Massey et al. Smoke and Mirrors Chapter 1, 4-7

Wednesday April 25: IN-CLASS EXAM

Monday April 30: TAKE-HOME ESSAY DUE

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