Social Contact of Minority Parents and Their Children's Acceptance by Classmates

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<ul><li><p>Social Contact of Minority Parents and Their Children's Acceptance by ClassmatesAuthor(s): Ruben Orive and Harold B. GerardSource: Sociometry, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Dec., 1975), pp. 518-524Published by: American Sociological AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786364 .Accessed: 28/06/2014 08:59</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>American Sociological Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access toSociometry.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 78.24.216.166 on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:59:42 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=asahttp://www.jstor.org/stable/2786364?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Sociometry 1975, Vol. 38, No. 4, 518-524 </p><p>Social Contact of Minority Parents and Their Children's Acceptance by Classmates* </p><p>RUBEN ORIVE HAROLD B. GERARD </p><p>University of California, Los Angeles </p><p>A study of the relationship between sociometric choices received by Mexican-American and black children from anglo peers and the amount of the minority parents' contact with own and other ethnic group members indicates that only father contacts were significantly related to the minority child's acceptance. Child sex differences and type of father contact interacted in determining anglo peer acceptance. Father's involvement in organizations was significantly related to a boy's acceptance whereas less contact for father with relatives was related to a girl's acceptance. This was found to hold regardless of family socioeconomic status. </p><p>Research on social contact has virtually overlooked the possibility that the attitudes and beliefs about the majority group held by minority group members may in some cases be a contributing factor in the failure to achieve social acceptance by the majority group in racial integration attempts (cf. Amir, 1969). Cohen (1967), in a study of the effects of racial isolation in public schools on later adult social contact, reports that both whites and blacks who had attended racially isolated schools when young, were likely as adults to "express fear, distrust, and hostility toward members of the other race." This was found to hold regardless of their socioeconomic status. </p><p>By the time a person reaches adult age, racial attitudes are likely to be well established. For the minority child, withdrawal into his own group does, however, take place gradually (Criswell, 1939). This withdrawal parallels the development of racial attitudes. Own-group </p><p>*Much of the research reported in this paper was supported by USPHS Grant number HD-06255. The authors are indebted to Terrence Jackson and Peter Lenz for their invaluable help. </p><p>518 </p><p>This content downloaded from 78.24.216.166 on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:59:42 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>MINORITY SOCIAL CONTACT 519 </p><p>identification appears at an early age among minority children and is often tainted by negative evaluations placed on their own group (Clark and Clark, 1947; Green and Gerard, 1974) relative to the majority group. Parental attitudes and behavior probably represent the primary influence in this process of internalization. These racial attitudes, in turn, presumably influence how children interact with others in interracial contexts. </p><p>Parents who rarely associate with outgroup members may not be able to model appropriate behavior for their children, and as a result, the children may react with feelings of uneasiness when meeting majority group members who tend to differ from them in appearance, language, and social behavior. Williams contends that "a certain amount of intergroup prejudice does not express a specific ethnic dislike so much as a generalized timidity and feeling of awkwardness in coping with unfamiliar situations and unknown people (1964:100)." Thus, the minority child's success in establishing friendly interpersonal relationships with majority group members may depend to some extent on the degree to which his parents have developed outgroup contact. In addition, as the parent spends more of his time with outgroup members, contact with the ingroup should decline. Reasoning backwards, if the minority child's ability to cope with the school situation is influenced by his racial attitudes and if these attitudes are influenced primarily by parents whose attitudes are, in turn, shaped by their contacts, it should follow that a minority child will be more accepted in the mixed classroom to the extent that his parents have contacts beyond their ingroup. </p><p>Method The sample included 322 Mexican-American and 227 black </p><p>children (272 boys and 277 girls) in Riverside (California) School District, who had recently been desegregated and who were in first through sixth grade and had fathers who were heads of their households.' </p><p>From a questionnaire individually administered to both parents of each sample child, items pertaining to ingroup and outgroup social contact were analyzed to determine their relationships to the child's social acceptance. The measure of mixed-ethnic organization </p><p>1 These data were collected as part of a larger study assessing the effects of school desegregation in Riverside. A volume reporting the full study is currently in press (Gerard and Miller, 1975). </p><p>This content downloaded from 78.24.216.166 on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:59:42 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>520 SOCIOMETRY </p><p>membership was based on answers to three questions relating to degree of involvement with organizations that included members of all three ethnic groups. We derived a measure of contact with relatives from the parents' answers to four questions reflecting the degree of involvement with and amount of time spent with relatives. The total number of sociometric choices received by the child for friendship, playing, and schoolwork situations was used as the measure of social acceptance. Because this study as well as others (e.g., Asubel, 1958) indicates that the child largely chooses peers of the same sex, only same-sex preferences were analyzed. In actuality cross-sex choices represented only a very small proportion of total choices made. Since previous studies (Bonney, 1944: Grossman and Wrighter, 1948; Thorpe, 1955) and the present one show a positive relationship between socioeconomic (SES) and sociometric status, we attempted to control for the effects of SES on social acceptance by assigning minority families to upper and lower SES categories based on an equal frequency dichotomy of the Duncan (1950) SES index for father's occupation. </p><p>Results Tables 1 and 2 show that greater father (F = 5.75, df = 1/190, p &lt; </p><p>.025) but not mother (F = 2.05, df = 1/264, n.s.) mixed-ethnic </p><p>TABLE 1 </p><p>Effects of Father's Membership in Organizations and Socioeconomic Status (SES) on Anglo Peer Acceptance </p><p>of Minority Boys and Girls </p><p>Ethnic Group </p><p>Father's Membership in Organizations SES Mexican-American Black </p><p>Boys High High 5.50* (20)** 8.71 (14) </p><p>Low 5.23 (22) 3.47 (15) Low High 4.95 (43) 3.81 (31) </p><p>Low 4.50 (38) 3.87 (15) Girls </p><p>High High 5.45 (11) 3.75 (12) Low 2.83 (30) 3.31 (26) </p><p>Low High 3.73 (44) 2.71 (21) Low 5.32 (44) 2.67 (15) </p><p>*Mean number of total (friendship, play and work) choices received from same-sex classmates. **Number of children in cell. </p><p>This content downloaded from 78.24.216.166 on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:59:42 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>MINORITY SOCIAL CONTACT 521 TABLE 2 </p><p>Effects of Mother's Membership in Organizations and Socioeconomic Status (SES) on Anglo Peer Acceptance </p><p>of Minority Boys and Girls </p><p>Ethnic Group </p><p>Mothers' Membership in Organizations SES Mexican-American Black Boys </p><p>High High 5.72* (36)** 6.36 (36) Low 4.16 (32) 4.13 (15) </p><p>Low High 4.63 (52) 3.74 (34) Low 5.42 (38) 3.13 (29) </p><p>Girls High High 3.27 (33) 3.69 (32) </p><p>Low 4.67 (45) 2.60 (30) Low High 4.19 (42) 2.71 (31) </p><p>Low 4.16 (44) 2.95 (20) </p><p>*Mean number of total (friendship, play and work) choices received from same-sex classmates. **Number of children in cell. </p><p>organization contact appears to promote peer group acceptance of the minority boys.2 No such relationship, however, was obtained for minority girls. Neither father nor mother contact affected the social status of the girls (both F values were less than 1.0). Popularity of boys showed a slight but non-significant effect of SES (F = 3.02, df = 1/190, p &lt; .10) which primarily reflects the high popularity of some high father contact-high SES black boys. No SES effects were obtained for father's contact and girl's acceptance or for mother's contact and acceptance of either boys or girls. (All three F's were less than 1.0.) </p><p>Similarly, the analysis of contact with relatives3 (see Tables 3 and </p><p>2Analysis of variance was the only feasible method of analysis since the contact variable was severely truncated. Nearly half of the parents belonged to no organizations with the rest belonging to one or a few mixed ethnic organizations at most. The parent was categorized as having "low" organizational contact if he or she reported no contact, and was categorized as "high" if he or she reported contact with one or more organizations. The reader will note that the N's in the mother contact tables are considerably larger than those for father contact. This reflects the simple fact that more mothers than fathers were interviewed. </p><p>3For the contact with relatives index, the range was restricted, again making ANOVA the only feasible method of analysis. Also, using the same method of analysis as for organizational contact served to make both analyses comparable. </p><p>This content downloaded from 78.24.216.166 on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:59:42 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>522 SOCIOMETRY </p><p>TABLE 3 </p><p>Effects of Father's Contact with Relatives and Socioeconomic Status (SES) on Anglo Peer Acceptance </p><p>of Minority Boys and Girls </p><p>Ethnic Group </p><p>Frequency of Father's Contact with Relatives SES Mexican-American Black </p><p>Boys High High 4.36* (28)** 4.94 (16) </p><p>Low 4.55 (33) 4.44 (16) Low High 5.58 (33) 5.40 (25) </p><p>Low 4.77 (26) 3.82 (11) Girls </p><p>High High 3.27 (26) 1.61 (18) Low 3.95 (41) 2.58 (19) </p><p>Low High 4.79 (29) 5.08 (13) Low 4.77 (30) 3.85 (20) </p><p>*Mean number of total (friendship, play and work) choices received from same-sex classmates. **Number of children in cell. </p><p>4) shows greater acceptance of minority girls when the father had less contact with relatives (F = 9.95, df = 1/188, p </p></li><li><p>MINORITY SOCIAL CONTACT 523 </p><p>TABLE 4 </p><p>Effects of Mother's Contact with Relatives and Socioeconomic Status (SES) on Anglo Peer Acceptance </p><p>of Minority Boys and Girls </p><p>Ethnic Group </p><p>Frequency of Mother's Contact with Relatives SES Mexican-American Black Boys </p><p>High High 5.23* (43)** 5.00 (34) Low 4.68 (38) 3.50 (30) </p><p>Low High 4.90 (41) 5.21 (34) Low 4.97 (31) 3.77 (13) </p><p>Girls High High 3.53 (34) 3.06 (34) </p><p>Low 4.71 (38) 2.19 (26) Low High 4.15 (39) 3.43 (28) </p><p>Low 4.20 (51) 3.33 (24) </p><p>*Mean number of total (friendship, play and work) choices received from same-sex classmates. * *Number of children in cell. </p><p>questionnaire responses regarding amount of contact with relatives may be skewed away from the low contact end since most mothers presumably have a considerable amount of contact with relatives. If such a "ceiling effect" occurred, the more restricted response range for mothers than for fathers might account for a lack of relationship between mother contact and her child's social acceptance in the classroom. No such ceiling artifact occurred: the responses for both fathers and mothers show comparable distributions. </p><p>We are able to conclude, therefore, that the findings do indeed point to the weather-vane character of the father's contacts but not the mother's. Since the father's total contact with the child is presumably less than the mother's, how can we account for the tendency of both boys and girls to model their fathers rather than their mothers? One possibility is that the effect is indeed mediated by the mother who reflects her husband's influence. Such a causal sequence relegates the mother to a rather passive conveyor role. Given the static quality of cross-sectional data, it is impossible to determine if indeed husbands tend to influence their wives in this respect. </p><p>This research does have direct implications for programs encouraging minority parent contact with the broader community. Heretofore, there has been only token emphasis on encouraging such </p><p>This content downloaded from 78.24.216.166 on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:59:42 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>524 SOCIOMETRY </p><p>contact in PTA-type groups, and what little participation exists has primarily involved mothers and not fathers. Since our evidence shows that the minority father is the child's model for outside contact, it is important to bring him into active participation in mixed ethnic groups as a spur to classroom integration. </p><p>REFERENCES </p><p>Amir, Y. 1969 "Contact hypothesis in ethnic relations." Psychological Bulletin </p><p>71:319-342. Asubel, D. P. 1958 Theory and Problems of Child Development. New York: Grune and </p><p>Statton. Bonney, M. E. 1944 "Relationships between social success, family size, socioeconomic home </p><p>background, and intelligence among school children in grades III to V." Sociometry 7:26-29. </p><p>Clark, K. B. and M. K. Clark 1947 "Racial identification and preference in Negro children." Pp. 169-178 </p><p>in T. M. Newcomb and E. L. Hartley (eds.), Readings in Social Psychology. New York: Holt. </p><p>Cohen, D. K. 1967 "Policy for the public schools: Compensation or integration?" Paper </p><p>delivered at the National Conference on EqualEducational Opportunity in America's Cities. Sponsored by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Washington D.C., Nov. 16-18. </p><p>Criswell, J. H. 1939 "A sociometric study of race cleavage in the classroom." Archives of </p><p>Psychology No. 235: New York. Duncan, 0. D. 1950 A Socio-economic Index for Occupations. Detailed Classification of the </p><p>Bureau of the Census. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. </p><p>Gerard, H. B. and N. Miller 1975 School Desegregation. New York: Plenum Publishing Corporation (in </p><p>press). Green, J. and H. B. Gerard 1974 "School desegregation and ethnic attitude...</p></li></ul>

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