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Theses Doctoral

Indigenous Resources of Mexican-Americans: Perceptions and Utilization

Borrego, Rodolfo

Purpose. The purpose of the study was to examine the network of indigenous resources of the Mexican-American community. Further it was the purpose of the study to explore the knowledge of the respondents regarding the issue of concern.

The objectives of this study were threefold. The primary objective was to contribute to the body of knowledge on Mexican-Americans and secondly to explore their network of indigenous resources. The final objective of this study was to contribute to theory development and provide recommendations for social work practice and intervention with Mexican-Americans.

Method. The study was exploratory-descriptive, and the setting for the research was Tulare County in the Central San Joaquin Valley, California.

The host agency for the study was Tulare County Headstart and Child Care Agency. Thirty-six couples, 18 first generation and 18 second generation were randomly selected as the sample of the study. None of the participants were, past or present, a client of Mental Health Services, which was one of the criteria for the sample selection.

Respondents participated in interviews that were prearranged. The interviews were facilitated with a research instrument designed to explore the most salient elements of the network of indigenous resources. Analysis of the data collected was performed by qualitative and quantitative methods.

Conclusions. Generally the data revealed that a well defined and functioning system of indigenous resources exist among Mexican-Americans. On most aspects of the indigenous resources and utilization, no difference was determined between the first and second generation respondents.

It was found that the sample was youthful and involved in the life tasks of child rearing and family development. Their outlook on life is controlled by a well developed system of belief which is guided by belief in God and evil. Their overall family orientation was extended in nature and in some cases friends and compadres were considered as part or extension of the family. Finally, it was found that curanderos and priests/ministers have a significant role for the respondents in regard to provision of assistance/help for life problems.

Recommendations. The findings have implications for social work theory development and social work practice. Sensitivity and awareness is necessary in relation to the cultural, social, and environment of Mexican-Americans. This is of critical importance in the provision of intervention and services. Further social work practitioners need to be cognizant that Mexican-American clients within their relationships and beliefs may possess a wealth of indigenous resources. And a concerted effort must be made to engage the indigenous resources as part of the helping system.

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Academic Units
Social Work
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 4, 2015
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