Methods & Models

The strengths-based, interdisciplinary Sustainable Livelihoods Strategies Model (SLSM) will be used to explore multiple social, economic, and psychological factors on one’s ability to make a living and sense of well-being; an individual’s capitals and capabilities are key factors in developing meaningful livelihoods. The SLSM is also used in an analysis of community capitals in sustainable development. Assessing integration builds on theories of acculturation and context of reception, and the effect on bridging capital (networks) in the community — long term residents and newcomers.

The Interactive Acculturation Model (IAM) describes the relational outcomes (consensual, problematic, conflictual) between the host and immigrant communities based on acculturation strategies used by each group. It assesses the degree of compatability between the two groups’ acculturation strategies (profiles).

Immigrants can use four acculturation strategies based on:

(a) their desire to develop relationships with the host group and adopt majority culture, and
(b) their desire to maintain relationships with immigrant groups and preserve cultural heritage.

The host community adopts similar strategies based on:

(a) their expectations that immigrants adopt majority culture, and
(b) their expectations that immigrants maintain their cultural heritage.

Research Questions

  • How similar or dissimilar are newcomers and members of the receiving community in terms of their expectations for integration and their desire to have contact with the other group?.
  • Are newcomers’ intentions to settle in the rural community predicted by economic integration, social capitals, receiving community acculturation, individual acculturation, perceptions of the community, attitudes toward immigrants, tolerance, and multicultural ideology?
  • How does a community’s relational outcomes impact the action research process?
  • What is the impact of the community action process on integration indicators?
  • What is the effect of individual integration indicators, human, social (bonding and bridging networks), cultural, and economic capitals on well-being?
  • What is the effect of the community integration process on well-being?

The research will employ a mixed methods approach (quantitative and qualitative) in two phases:

In Phase 1 qualitative data is gathered through twelve focus groups, and quantitative data through a survey of 240 individuals to develop acculturation and integration profiles. Focus groups with men and women will be conducted with long time residents and Latino newcomers. Appreciate Inquiry will be utilized to engage in action research through Photovoice in Phase 1 and Community Forums in Phase 2. Photovoice engages groups of long-time residents and newcomers as active researchers using photography and narrative.

Phase 2 includes an appreciative inquiry process that engages long-term residents and newcomers in action research to identify community actions that can move them toward integration, based on the findings from research conducted in Phase 1. Quantitative and qualitative methods will be implemented to assess acculturation, integration, reception context, and information networks.