Book Chapter

Rock, rap, or reggaeton?: assessing Mexican immigrants' cultural assimilation using Facebook data

Stewart, I. B., Flores, R. D., Riffe, T., Weber, I., Zagheni, E.
In: Liu, L., White, R., Mantrach, A., Silvestri, F., McAuley, J., Baeza-Yates, R., Zia, L. (Eds.): Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference WWW 2019: May 13-17, 2019, San Francisco, CA, USA, 3258–3264
New York, ACM (2019)

Abstract

The degree to which Mexican immigrants in the U.S. are assimilating culturally has been widely debated. To examine this question, we focus on musical taste, a key symbolic resource that signals the social positions of individuals. We adapt an assimilation metric from earlier work to analyze self-reported musical interests among immigrants in Facebook. We use the relative levels of interest in musical genres, where a similarity to the host population in musical preferences is treated as evidence of cultural assimilation. Contrary to skeptics of Mexican assimilation, we find significant cultural convergence even among first-generation immigrants, which problematizes their use as assimilative “benchmarks” in the literature. Further, 2nd generation Mexican Americans show high cultural convergence vis-à-vis both Anglos and African-Americans, with the exception of those who speak Spanish. Rather than conforming to a single assimilation path, our findings reveal how Mexican immigrants defy simple unilinear theoretical expectations and illuminate their uniquely heterogeneous character.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.