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Religion Identity Of Latino, Asian And European American

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An analysis of the Longitudinal Immigrant Student Adaptation (LISA) survey of Asian-, Caribbean-, and Latino-American immigrant youth in the Boston area, done by Suárez-Orozco, Singh, Abo-Zena, Du, and Roeser (2011), have shown that religious affiliation and participation are high in almost all immigrant families, with the partial exception of recent Chinese immigrants. Through their work, it was demonstrated that religious involvement resulted in mostly positive effects (i.e. increased religious identity, enhanced social support, more positive peer networks, a better sense of purpose). Most notably, qualitative findings illustrated that many adolescents looked toward religion as a moral guide of sorts, to not stray toward risk behaviour. Generally, adolescents viewed religion as the root of cultural family values that have been a constant throughout generations. In the context of European migration, cultural values of interdependence, for instance, tradition and conformity, which are of central importance in the heritage cultural context, were associated with Muslim youth (Saroglou, Delpierre, & Dernelle, 2004); and were also acknowledged by religious youth in the context of acculturation (Güngör, Bornstein, & Phalet, 2012).

Other US-based studies examined contrasts in religious development between ethnic-racial categories of youth. A 3-year longitudinal study of 15–18-year-old Latino, Asian American and European Americans found that religious identification was constant across high school years however participation in religious practices declined (Lopez, Huynh, & Fuligni, 2011). Higher levels of religious identity were reported in Latino and Asian American youth (primarily first and second generation) as opposed to European American youth (third generation and beyond mainly). Compared to the US, Europe has a higher immigration number with regards to majority Muslim countries. In the Netherlands, a cross-sectional study among Muslim minority youth found the level of religious identification to increase from early to mid-adolescence, and to decrease again from mid- to later adolescence (from age 15 onwards; Verkuyten, Thijs, & Stevens, 2012). Hence. There seems to be concurring evidence of constant or increasing religious identification among minority youth.

Acculturation is the process of adapting to a multicultural and new social environment (Mesquita, Deleersnyder, & Jasini, in press). This adaptive process is part of a normal development process that all immigrants go through. The process inadvertently gives rise to various pathways of identity development. The focus of the review, specifically, is on the role of religious identity in the acculturation and adaptation of minority adolescents.

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In line with a well-established bidimensional approach to acculturation (Berry, Phinney, Sam, & Vedder, 2006), a distinction is made between mainstream and heritage cultural attitudes and cultural identifications in minority youth. Importantly, how well the youth adopt tends to be based on the quality of intercultural relations in specific acculturation contexts. A growing body of research on Muslim minority youth illustrates adaptation problems, such as increased risks of depression (Fassaert et al., 2011 in the Netherlands), suppressing problem behaviour (Oppedal & Røysamb, 2007), or decreased levels of psychological well-being (Stuart, Ward, & Adam, 2010). In a cross-cultural study including both Muslim and non-Muslim youth (on both sides of the Atlantic), a comparison of acculturation and adaptation was carried out by Berry et al. (2006). The results of the study illustrated that separationism was more prevalent among Muslim youth as compared to Western and non-Western Christian youth. Separationist minorities are likely to experience adaptation problems (i.e. problem behaviour or poor school achievement).

In spite of Berry et al.’s (2006) findings, evidence of culture conflict (opposing a distinctive religious identity to mainstream cultural identities) is mixed (Fleischmann & Phalet, 2016). This is because it is dependent on the characteristics of specific acculturation contexts. Studies about Turkish-German adolescents constantly found negative associations of religious parenting (Spiegler, Güngör, & Leyendecker, 2016) and religious identification (Dimitrova & Aydinly-Karakulak, 2016) with the adoption of, and identification with, the German mainstream culture. Schachner et al. (2014) found that the importance of (Islamic or Christian) religion at home negatively predicted mainstream German cultural orientation, and impacted negatively on adolescents’ sociocultural adaptation in this country. Similarly, the high intrinsic value of religious faith, as well as religious certainty and practice, negatively predicted mainstream culture adoption and identification among Muslim-Belgian late adolescents (Saroglou & Galand, 2004).

To summarise, the religious identity of Muslim adolescents is entwined with their attachment to heritage cultural values and identities and either unrelated or conflicting with mainstream culture adoption. More research is needed to understand better when and how religion entails identity conflict.

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Religion Identity Of Latino, Asian And European American. (2021, September 06). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Religion Identity Of Latino, Asian And European American.” Edubirdie, 06 Sept. 2021,
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