Latino and American identities as perceived by immigrants

Douglas S. Massey, R. Magaly Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this paper we analyze Latino and American identities as perceived by first and second generation immigrants to the United States. Disposable cameras were handed out to a small set of subjects, who were asked to take pictures of whatever, to them, seemed American and Latino as they went through their daily lives. The resulting set of 115 American images and 134 Latino images suggest that Latin American immigrants see a great contrast in the content of the two identities. Subjects viewed American identity as having to do with bigness and power and they saw Americans as being in constant motion and in a hurry, competitive and commercial, and cold, distant, and impersonal. In contrast, subjects viewed Latino identity as focused on people and composed of intimate social relationships. The building blocks of Latino identity, according to our respondents, appear to be work, home, and Latin American cultural symbols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-107
Number of pages27
JournalQualitative Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • American
  • Identity perception
  • Immigrant
  • Latino
  • Youth


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