The universal use of the terms Hispanic and Latino is linked to the broad subgroup of Mexican American, Cuban American and Puerto Rican populations in a wide context (French & Chavez, 2010). Gustavo was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico in 1975. When he was 4 years old, his mother moved to the United States through New Jersey. He is presently 41 years old and currently works as a truck driver. He plans to work in the sports sector at some point. He is a hard worker and is of sound academic ability although he never managed to go past the 8th grade. He helps his mother who is peasant farmers in New Haven where they are currently settled. He is also a staunch Pentecostal. We met at the college while he delivered supplies and was kind enough to grant me an interview.
Gustavo belongs to the Hispanic working poor class. He works as a semi-skilled truck driver and earns a minimum wage job. He sometimes translates to a loader and does not receive either health insurer or other benefits. His mother is sick and given the struggles with medical bills, Gustavo, and his family could soon fall to below the poverty line. He is a straight man, married with two sons both in 4th grade. Being a Hispanic, he exhibits a Hispanic culture where he does not believe in competition or activities that alienate him from his own group. Super machismo plays a significant role where he believes in a clear distinction between men and women, whereby men are supposed to be authoritative and women submissive (Fuller & Coll, 2010).
My interviewee (Gustavo) has grown in three different environments Puerto Rica Island, New Jersey, and New Haven. The three environments have represented different lifestyles and heritage. In his native island, he was accustomed to the conservative surrounding where people are used to tough upbringing. He lost his dad before he was born. His mother married and separated with his stepfather and he learned how to get through this without much concern. Gustavo defines his identity as Puerto Rican given his immigration experience. He maintains the same Identity although as he keeps talking about his Island of origin and his ancestors. He likes to be referred as Puerto Rican.
He is mesmerized every time people ask if his ethnicity is Latin or Mexican. He feels that people have unnecessary questioned his ethnicity at Caucasian-dominant surrounding. He has become used to being one of the few Puerto Rican in most o f these environments. He seems to have gotten accustomed about the negative stereotyping about Puerto Ricans. He looks oppressed from the inner self and lacks self-esteem. According to Padilla (2004), the individual might be experiencing what he refers t as internalized oppression. In these instances, people act unwillingly out of stereotypes.
The social cognitive theorys perspective is that the environment, the person and the elements of behavior influence change in behavior (Kirst-Ashman & Zastrow, 2013). For instance, in the case of our interviewee, the kind of environment that he grew has affected the development of his personal characteristics like resilience. Having stayed in different communities, the environments have helped change the way he thinks about certain aspects. While in New Jersey, his mother made him believe that the blacks and white races were oppressive of the Latinos. That perception changed when they moved to New Haven, where they found people friendly and loving. Social cognitive theory also emphasizes on reciprocal interactions that are expected to influence change in behavior (Ahmed, 2010). For instance, when the interviewee moved from his native Island to New Jersey he found that people did not trust one other and consequently he was made to behave in a similar manner towards them.
The systems that are embedded within the interviewee include his family, his neighborhood, his workplace, and his church. The social systems theory is holonistic and needs the specification of the focal system, the units of the system and the specification of the important environmental factors. Similarly, it is important to specify ones own position according to the focal system (Champagne & Mashoodh, 2009). The community is the focal system of the interviewee and is the one that captures primary attention and determines the perspective from which the interviewee sees and analyzes the social environment. The system constitutes his family and the people around them. They are included in the environmental system that consists of the workmates, schools and church, and health institutions. In the interview, the interviewee mentions how his family has been of help to him in fighting diabetes. He also talks of workmates as a second family and the church as the foundation of his personality and crucial to overcoming challenging situations. The individual does not have any other systems in relation to the diverse cultural identities in the community. He is straight and hence does not subscribe to groups such as LGBTQ.
The systems for the interviewee serve as risk factors, security or stressors to the social human behavior. According to the social systems theory, the society is a closed system that gives birth to itself and the environment by putting together its elements as per the logics, selectively exposing itself to the social future. The modern social systems theory imported into sociology by Talcott Parsons and colleagues include fresh views from cognitive biology, the doctrine of conscience, phenomenon, diversity and constructivism. The theory holds that the society self-constructs everything useful in the world starting with the variation between them and the environment. In this way, the difference between human and the environment may serve as risk, security or resource that influences behavior (Eccles, Wong & Peck, 2006). The interviewee has stayed in diverse environments where there were social systems. His family and origin have been an influence on the interviewees social identity.
My interview has resided in more than one societal context. To start with, he was born in the Island of Puerto Rico, and then he came to lie in a community with mixed ethnic backgrounds in New Jersey. He now resides in New Haven. At the island, people were warm and conservative. They embraced love and sharing for one another. The interviewees stepfather worked hard in his fruit shop to ensure they got food since her mother was not working at the time. However, when they moved north to New Jersey, things were a bit different and hard. It changed from a socialist society to a capitalist. People here were individualistic, hostile and contemptuous of one another. Then at his current residence, things became a bit better. Everyone he came across treated him nicely. The three diverse contexts have helped shape the persons current behavior. The social values he was taught by his mother, as well as his religious faith, have helped impart positivity and harmony in the individual. He has become an all-around, responsible and understanding person.
Despite the early treatment that he received as a kid, he has learned not to discriminate against one another. He does not subscribe to any political views. His religion has been the main influencing factor when it comes to facing negativity or negative stereotypes. However, interviewee seems to be oppressed by the fact that he is of a Hispanic ethnic group there is a feeling that he has low self-esteem given the fact that he is semiskilled laborer who was unlucky not to complete school. Although he is happy, he has not reached the potential in his life. This is also portrayed by his early life in the country where his mother told him not to talk back or fight back at anyone even though his life was in danger. He could be thrown stones as a young boy until he was injured.
In summary, several individual and systematic factors have influenced the interviewees life. The individual factors include parenting, religious believers, and the physical health condition. He never got the chance to see his father as he died few months before he was born. He had stepfather but he was not there for too long. His mother raised her single-handedly and this made him embrace women positively in the perceived chauvinistic Hispanic society. Although he still believes that men need to have authority over the women, he respects both genders in equal measure. Besides parenting, his religious faith has helped him embrace has identity and deal with life challenges in a sober way. It is because of hi religious faith that he can still say he is proud of his Hispanic identity and heritage. He is battling diabetes now as well as working in a demanding environment as a truck driver. This has kept him grounded and humbled. He has learned the art of fighting to see another day. He knows that his family will need him no matter how. He also uses the service of medical experts who are helping him manage his chronic condition. They are of diverse ethnic background but still have the opportunity to serve him.
On the other hand, systematic factors are also numerous. They include family, friends, colleagues at work, the community systems-schools, hospitals, and the church, the ethnic background including the federal and state systems. Throughout his life, the interviewee has lived with his family-grandmother, mother, and her sister. They have been there for each other in all circumstances. He now has a wife and children to take care of and he is happy to do that. The family has been there to support him in fighting his physical health condition. His wife supplements their income to sustain their childrens needs. In this way, we can say that the family has shaped the harmonious relationship with his family and peers. His colleague workers have also been very influential. He calls them his second family and part of his social networks of friends. The community surrounding has been significant too in shaping the interviewees life. For instance, his original community of the island has put in him the conservative values and norms. Similarly, it has been the basis of his religious faith. In all the environments he lived, he found good and bad people. He has maintained his mothers advice of not fighting back no matter the situation. Those have made him humble and at times live below his self-esteem. The formal systems in the community have also shaped the person he is today. In this case, the church has been his prime influencer when it comes to making decisions about life and going through challenges in the society. The school also has imparted some positivity into his life. Although he faces d discrimination at a young age, he refused to be carried away by the situation and opt to treat people nicely in all boarders.
Completing this task has not been easy, as it has involved a lot of fact-finding and theory validation. The interview has come to prove many things in the psychological, sociocultural and the systemic behaviors among individuals. The social cognitive theory has been confirmed and so is the case for other theories such as social systems theory. It has also confirmed the physical health conditions that come with aging. I have also had to experience the nature of responsibility bestowed to one as they age. Similarly, the interview ha disapproved my perception of the Hispanic community as unfriendly and aggressive. They share positivity and tough upbringing in equal measures.
In my view on the society, culture and human behavior, theory and research can guide in the same way in developing conclusions. The behavioral factors revealed by research are the critical influencing factors behavior. These...
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