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More than culture: Structural racism, intersectionality theory, and immigrant health

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  • Viruell-Fuentes, Edna A.
  • Miranda, Patricia Y.
  • Abdulrahim, Sawsan

Abstract

Explanations for immigrant health outcomes often invoke culture through the use of the concept of acculturation. The over reliance on cultural explanations for immigrant health outcomes has been the topic of growing debate, with the critics’ main concern being that such explanations obscure the impact of structural factors on immigrant health disparities. In this paper, we highlight the shortcomings of cultural explanations as currently employed in the health literature, and argue for a shift from individual culture-based frameworks, to perspectives that address how multiple dimensions of inequality intersect to impact health outcomes. Based on our review of the literature, we suggest specific lines of inquiry regarding immigrants’ experiences with day-to-day discrimination, as well as on the roles that place and immigration policies play in shaping immigrant health outcomes. The paper concludes with suggestions for integrating intersectionality theory in future research on immigrant health.

Suggested Citation

  • Viruell-Fuentes, Edna A. & Miranda, Patricia Y. & Abdulrahim, Sawsan, 2012. "More than culture: Structural racism, intersectionality theory, and immigrant health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2099-2106.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2099-2106
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.12.037
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Acevedo-Garcia, Dolores & Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Emma V. & Viruell-Fuentes, Edna A. & Almeida, Joanna, 2012. "Integrating social epidemiology into immigrant health research: A cross-national framework," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2060-2068.
    3. Jonathan Zufferey, 2016. "Investigating the migrant mortality advantage at the intersections of social stratification in Switzerland," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 34(32), pages 899-926, June.
    4. Torres, Jacqueline M., 2013. "Cross-border ties and self-rated health status for young Latino adults in Southern California," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 79-86.
    5. repec:eee:socmed:v:199:y:2018:i:c:p:19-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:socmed:v:199:y:2018:i:c:p:11-18 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Michelle L. Frisco & Susana Quiros & Jennifer Hook, 2016. "One Size May Not Fit All: How Obesity Among Mexican-Origin Youth Varies by Generation, Gender, and Age," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(6), pages 2031-2043, December.
    8. repec:eee:socmed:v:196:y:2018:i:c:p:233-239 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Noreen Goldman & Anne Pebley & Mathew Creighton & Graciela Teruel & Luis Rubalcava & Chang Chung, 2014. "The Consequences of Migration to the United States for Short-Term Changes in the Health of Mexican Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1159-1173, August.
    10. Terriquez, Veronica & Joseph, Tiffany D., 2016. "Ethnoracial inequality and insurance coverage among Latino young adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 150-158.
    11. Fleischman, Yonina & Willen, Sarah S. & Davidovitch, Nadav & Mor, Zohar, 2015. "Migration as a social determinant of health for irregular migrants: Israel as case study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 89-97.
    12. Sabo, Samantha & Shaw, Susan & Ingram, Maia & Teufel-Shone, Nicolette & Carvajal, Scott & de Zapien, Jill Guernsey & Rosales, Cecilia & Redondo, Flor & Garcia, Gina & Rubio-Goldsmith, Raquel, 2014. "Everyday violence, structural racism and mistreatment at the US–Mexico border," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 66-74.
    13. Naomi Priest & Yin Paradies & Angeline Ferdinand & Lobna Rouhani & Margaret Kelaher, 2014. "Patterns of Intergroup Contact in Public Spaces: Micro-Ecology of Segregation in Australian Communities," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(1), pages 1-15, January.
    14. Allen, Jennifer Dacey & Caspi, Caitlin & Yang, May & Leyva, Bryan & Stoddard, Anne M. & Tamers, Sara & Tucker-Seeley, Reginald D. & Sorensen, Glorian C., 2014. "Pathways between acculturation and health behaviors among residents of low-income housing: The mediating role of social and contextual factors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 26-36.
    15. repec:eee:socmed:v:199:y:2018:i:c:p:202-208 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Kagawa Singer, M. & Dressler, W. & George, S., 2016. "Culture: The missing link in health research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 237-246.
    17. Ro, Annie & Bostean, Georgiana, 2015. "Duration of U.S. stay and body mass index among Latino and Asian immigrants: A test of theoretical pathways," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 39-47.
    18. repec:eee:socmed:v:199:y:2018:i:c:p:56-66 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Hatzenbuehler, Mark L. & Prins, Seth J. & Flake, Morgan & Philbin, Morgan & Frazer, M. Somjen & Hagen, Daniel & Hirsch, Jennifer, 2017. "Immigration policies and mental health morbidity among Latinos: A state-level analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 169-178.
    20. repec:eee:socmed:v:191:y:2017:i:c:p:19-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Arévalo, Sandra P. & Tucker, Katherine L. & Falcón, Luis M., 2014. "Life events trajectories, allostatic load, and the moderating role of age at arrival from Puerto Rico to the US mainland," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 301-310.
    22. repec:spr:ijphth:v:62:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s00038-017-0957-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. repec:eee:socmed:v:199:y:2018:i:c:p:39-48 is not listed on IDEAS

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