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Research Paper on Latina Women

Understanding the social situation of Latina women in rural areas requires an immense amount of work and research. This is part one of a sample research paper provided by Ultius professional writing services. It explores the social isolation of Latinas in rural areas and the various factors that come into play with this subject. To respond to the aims proposed for this study the results will be presented in 2 parts:

  1. Review of literature results
  2. Interview data analysis

Understanding the social situation of Latina women in rural areas requires an immense amount of work and research. Latina women are described as the backbone of their culture.

Latina woman in rural areas: Literature review

Several perceptions were derived through the social isolation among Latinas literature. The research areas include:

  • Vulnerability to deportation
  • Fear of the environment
  • Family separation
  • Discrimination
  • Linguistics as a barrier
  • Geographical mobility
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Social network

Among these factors, the literature discussed discrimination and linguistics as a barrier as being the predominant perceptions among Latina who are socially isolated.

Vulnerability to deportation

Most of the research on this perception found that an accumulation of stress and depression is linked to Latinas due to a fear of being vulnerable to deportation under American immigration policies. As depression and stress are becoming more prevalent in the Latino community, Latina women are turning to a number of alternative avenues such as keeping busy and through spirituality. Latina women, in a particular study performed, felt the most sadness about being vulnerable to deportation as the women valued their stay in the United States.

The women “reported a lack of documentation that in turn led to the stress and worry. The women feared that if they were deported, their children who had been born in the United States would have to be left with a relative or would be taken by the government” (Shattell, 2009).

It can be purported that acculturation is necessary for immigrants to integrate into society. Latina women perhaps more so than other races have many barriers that plague them and thus, acculturation is needed to avoid the threat of being vulnerable to deportation. This acculturation process includes areas such as physical activity and education and the modifying effects on Latina women with regard to the limitations they have within the framework of the United States structure (Parra-Medina Messias, 2011).

Fear of the environment

Sociological frameworks are suggested to be an appropriate measure for addressing complex perceptions such as fear of one’s environment. Many Latina women express significant fear as a factor when in different settings and with the presence of stray animals, individuals or groups or a combination of these. Certain modeling and intervention planning can be executed to further assess the human-animal conflict and ways of alleviating the fears of Latina women about their environment (Parra-Medina Messias, 2011). By incorporating this framework into the mix, the perception will in effect, dissipate.

Family separation

Emotional health is a primary factor governing the mental consciousness of Latina women in rural areas. A fundamental undercurrent is the common threat of being separated from their family. While reasoning’s vary as to why they came to the United States, a potential stress factor is the fact that they may be separated from their families and depression may set in as a result (Ornelas, 2009; Cavazos-Rehg, 2007; Smith, 2010). The risk of depression is a serious factor among immigrant Latina women and can lead to changes in the ways families function as a result.


Where Latinos immigrate to and settle in may potentially augment the level of stress factors. The presence of substantial stress in rural areas and smaller communities may be undocumented. The isolation factor provides a further allowance to understand the perception of unconscious racial discrimination and purposeful prejudice. Latina women often feel discriminated against upon moving to new communities and may feel ashamed as a result. Latina mothers face many perplexing challenges that put them at risk of experiencing depression and extreme emotional hazards.

While resilience exists, the expression of a varied amount of feelings for the threat of discrimination is overt. Empirical evidence supports that emotional health plays a significant and pivotal role in the mental well-being of Latina women, therefore, the process of finding employment and obtaining housing for example, may become burdens as a result of discriminatory factors for the mere reason that they are Latina. The shame and stress of dealing with these burdens may elevate familial conflict adding to the mental health problem.

Tighter housing markets also play a role especially in areas where Latino families immigrate to. While these larger communities tend to have a noteworthy amount of ethnicities, there is yet a discriminatory factor on the basis of skin color, language, culture or a myriad of the three (Iceland Nelson, 2008; Ornelas, 2011; Piedra Byoun, 2012; Parra-Medina Messias, 2011; Smith Mannon, 2010).

Linguistic as a barrier

Linguistics tend to play a large role in Hispanic disadvantages. A common stressor among Latina women is the limited language pathway they have upon immigrating leading to a feeling of social isolation and not adapting into society. The limited feelings or rather perceptions prevent these women from gaining the needed services such as learning English. A greater fluency of the English language is associated with less segregated feelings among Latina women (Ornelas, 2011; Vega, 2011).

Geographic mobility

A common stressor among Latina women is the limited language pathway they have upon immigrating leading to a feeling of social isolation and not adapting into society. The limited feelings or rather perceptions prevent these women from gaining the needed services such as learning English. A greater fluency of the English language is associated with less segregated feelings among Latina women (Ornelas, 2011; Vega, 2011). The impact of belief systems and patterns has a direct influence on the mobility of Latina women.

Sedentarism “has unfortunately become a way of life for many people in the United States. The acculturation process may inadvertently support such sedentary lifestyles, as levels of both planned and incidental physical activity among Hispanic immigrants decrease dramatically following their arrival in the United States” (D’Alonzo, 2012).

Emotional health plays a role in physical well-being and can be a situational stressor among Latina women as a result of being predisposed to lack of mobility. A series of daunting hardships can exacerbate the process leading to a variety of schisms in relationships. Transportation is a crucial obstacle in gaining access to a variety of places for Latina women as well (Piedra Byoun, 2012). There is a distinctive correlation between geographic mobility and Latina women’s feeling isolated from the world.

Socioeconomic status

Socioeconomic status seems to be directly related to the depression and isolation feelings in Latina women.

Due to “the strong correlation between income level and educational attainment, Mexican and Mexican Americans are at a disadvantage for successfully rising out of poverty because they are the least likely of the largest U.S. demographic groups to complete a college degree” (Shattell, 2009).

There is an asymmetrical balance in the amount of affordable housing, quality schools and public schools in areas where Latina women reside (Wen Maloney, 2011). The prevalence of this contributes to the socioeconomic constraints associated with Latina women.

Social network

In order to maintain sanity living in their communities, Latina women form close-knit social networks with other women that lend them support across the social activity spectrum. With a significant amount of stress factors associated with adapting to their environment, Latina women need the reciprocity from other women in order to maintain their emotional wellbeing (Vega, 2011; Wen Maloney, 2011).

Latina Woman in Rural Areas: Gaps in literature

There were gaps present in the research results. The notable gaps were small sample size, limited ethnic diversity, nonprobability sample, unequal gender distribution, a mainly urban territory for research, and a heavy amount of qualitative research.

Small sample size

The preponderance of the studies utilized small samples posing a significant problem in the depiction of the targeted population being Latina women. With an oversaturation of small subgroups within the target population, significant problems can occur with regard to sampling error (D’Alonzo, 2012; Ornelas, 2009; Parra-Medina Messias, 2011; Piedra Byoun, 2012; Shattell, 2009; Smith Mannon, 2010). Delineation can be made however that small samples were used to underscore the isolation factors associated with Latina women.

Limited ethnic diversity

It appears as though the majority of studies had an overrepresentation of Mexico immigrants when compared to other Latino groups. The studies were structured and had many different types of surveys and interviews, however, did not explore other groups within the Latino culture (Cavazos-Rehg, 2007; Hiott et. al, 2006). An assessment of this gap when probed further underscored that the selection of certain areas for the studies was too nominal in quantity.

Unequal gender distribution

In several of the studies, more men were recruited than women in the participation. Most of the data that was collected was derived through the male perspective and a significant result blend could not be ascertained as a result (Cavazos-Rehg, 2007; Vega, 2011). As a result of the isolation issue with Latina women, this may be a relatively probable explanation for the disparity in perspectives.

Nonprobability Sample

It is quite possible that nonprobability sampling was needed in these studies, however, as a result of it being expedient; a snowball effect emerged which tampered the results. The greater part of the research focused intently on a certain sector of the Latino population rather than trying to determine the means by which isolation happens among all groups within the Latino culture. It can be denoted here that a probability sample should have been used in addition to nonprobability sampling in order to make a superlative generality regarding the totality of the Latino population.

Latina women in rural areas: The urban areas

Urban neighborhoods underscored the research and as a result data was not collected in rural areas as much as it should have been. Disparities in the emotional stress were ascertained from Latino immigrants in “a Midwestern city” (Cavazos-Rehg, 2007) and other urban areas that cause a mystification within the research. It in effect is skewed as a result or rather the entire picture is not exhibited. Location distinction plays a pivotal role in gathering research for this academic paper, given the proportion of immigrants that opt to immigrate to both urban and rural areas. It is important to understand the entire framework of the isolation factors.

Mostly qualitative research

An overflow of qualitative research was performed to determine reasons behind perceptions among Latino immigrants. Due to this saturation of one-sided data, there was much description. Smith Mannon (2009) discuss the experiences and challenges of Latina women in rural Utah but are lax in the amount of quantitative understanding of the sample sizes. To balance the variety of factors associated with the mixture of social perceptions, quantitative research should be used to gain a better grasp of the situation.

Interview data analysis

Interviews were conducted to understand the common themes or threads running among the reasons for the perceptional basis in Latina women. The common themes were:

  • Family dynamics
  • Community interactions
  • Fear of environment
  • Discrimination
  • Relation to feelings
  • Linguistic as a barrier
  • Church as a safe zone
  • Women as primary household caretaker
  • Social network support
  • Family separation
  • Legal status as an obstacle
  • Geographical mobility
  • Accessibility to basic needs

Certain factors were more noteworthy than others such as family dynamics, discrimination, fears of the environment and geographic mobility and social network support.

Family dynamics

The importance of family plays an important societal role in Latino families. It was an important factor in keeping the lines of communication open to discuss any particular issues and problems that an individual might have been experiencing. An example of an interview question and response was:

“Platíqueme lo que piensa de cómo son las relaciones entre los miembros de su familia. Por ejemplo, cuándo y cómo interactúan entre sí, qué tipo de comunicación y de conflictos. Cómo resuelven los conflictos. Eh, tenemos buena comunicación. Conflictos no tenemos. Pues, no.”

[“Tell me about what you think of how the relationships between family members. For example, when and how they interact with each other, what kind of communication and conflict. How to resolve conflicts. Hey, we have good communication. Conflicts do not have. Well, no.”]

Community Interactions, fear of Environment, and discrimination

Each of these themes was noted as being fundamental factors in the interviews such as:

“Platíqueme los lugares que visitan en la comunidad y los tipos de actividades. La iglesia, ahí sí convivimos con bastantes personas, vamos a las oraciones, cuando hay oraciones, misas de sanación.”

[“Tell me about the places they visit in the community and the types of activities. The church, then yes we live with many people, going to prayers, when prayers, healing Masses.”]

“Pues, que no tenemos papeles ni… Para estar aquí y para poder trabajar, este, sin que uno tenga, este, miedo o problemas por la… Porque uno no tiene licencia para manejar.”

[“Well, we do not have papers or … To be here and to work, this, no one has, this, fear or problems by … Because you have no driver’s license.”] and responses on discrimination being “a veces gente, pero no es, no es gente donde los lugares que voy, sino que, a veces, uno quiere una información y, a veces sí, le dicen a uno “No te entiendo”, a pesar de que sabemos que sí nos entienden, pero no quieren hacer las ayudas.”

[“Sometimes people, but it is, people not places where I go, but sometimes you want information and sometimes yes, they tell you” do not understand “, even though we know that yes we understand, but do not want aid.”]

Geographic mobility

Since many Latinas grew up in poverty, being able to afford necessities and pay bills was first on their minds. Responses to these questions were along the lines of the women being able to get to and from the various places they needed to get. One response discussed paying bills:

“Aquí hay que pagar bills, hay que pagar aseguranza de carro. Hay que pagar carro si uno no tiene y… Si uno no tiene carro, pues, tampoco no se mueve. Y allá en Méjico uno se mueve caminando como camiones, lo que sea. Y, pues.”

[“There are bills to pay, you pay car insurance. You pay car if you do not have and … If you do not have a car, then, does not move either. And down in Mexico one moves walking as trucks, whatever. And, then.”]

Social network and support

As noted in the research, social support is one of the ways in which Latina women cope with the varying stressors as a result of the acculturation process. The responses to these questions centered around the responder feeling a sense of support from fellow friends and family.

“¿Y usted siente que tiene personas a su alrededor que la ayudan, la apoyan?… Sí. Sí.”

[“And you feel you have people around you who help, support it? … Yes Yes]

“¿Quién siente usted que la apoya? Si usted llegara a tener una situación de, de emergencia… Pues, la verdad no sé. Yo pienso, yo, pues, pienso que si llega a pasar algo así debo llamar al 911.”

[“Who do you feel that support? If you were to have a situation, emergency … Well, actually I do not know. I think, therefore I think that if something does happen I should call 911.”]

Latina women in rural areas: Discussion

Common themes found both in the literature review and interviews exhibit several similarities. Research focused on several different perceptions including vulnerability to deportation, fears of environment, family separation, and gender discrimination, linguistics as a barrier, geographical mobility, social network and socioeconomic status. The interviews focused on these factors as well in addition to family dynamics, community interactions, fear of environment, church as a safe zone, women specifically as the primary household caretaker, and accessibility to basic needs.

Latina women deal with several stressors as a result of being isolated in rural areas. These thematic stressors have been and continue to be heavily analyzed to determine how best these individuals can deal with the aggravating circumstances (Lettiere Nakano, 2011). An integral role of course is denoting which themes are positive and which are negative aspects that do not necessarily aid the Latina women in any form or fashion. Positive themes include family dynamics, community interactions, church as a safe zone, and social network and support. Each of the factors based on the results of the research allowed the Latina women not to feel so isolated. These particular mental vehicles aided them with regard to their self-worth, and ability to adapt in the acculturation process.

Latina mothers face numerous challenges that put them at risk for mental illness and thus structured factors such as social networks allow them to form both a combination of resiliency and stamina in the midst of several social and economic stressors such as the poverty thresholds (Ornelas, 2009; Giusti, n.d.). Latina women are better able to adapt when they gain employment, and can feed their families. These individuals also feel less isolated when they have church as a safe zone. From a health perspective, emotional health can be better supported when spirituality is adopted among the attitudes and behaviors of one’s culture.

Latin Americans share a common expectation that stress and tension is relieved through the social outlet of church (Padilla Villalobos, 2007). One interview respondent stated that they felt comfortable in church because people spoke the same language. There was a sense of commonality. Community interactions is an important theme as well as it allows Latina women to interact with different people in their community and adjust to the culture of the city in which they live. As time passes, the Latina women are able to better understand the similarities and differences they have with other ethnicities and can learn to acculturate successfully.

Research about Latina women living in rural areas show the negative themes that were the most striking were discrimination and vulnerability of deportation. Discrimination of many ethnicities and cultures is still prevalent in today’s society. Although subtle, research suggests that it is a significant negative factor in the mental and emotional wellbeing of Latina women. Vulnerability of deportation is another theme that is negative as many families have come to the United States to have a better life and thus, they should be afforded those opportunities.

There were many limitations of the study. Perhaps the most perplexing limitation was the fact that minimal quantitative research was used. It would seem as though with sampling performed that numbers would factor heavily in the conclusive evidence of the effects of isolation on Latina women, but it unfortunately did not. Another limitation was the lack of probability sampling. Nonprobability sampling was used significantly in the research and did not capsulate the full picture of the dynamics of social isolation of Latina women sufficiently.


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