Examining spiritual capital and acculturation across ecological systems: Developmental implications for children and adolescents in diverse immigrant families

Soojin Susan Oh, Hirokazu Yoshikawa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Religion and spirituality encompass vibrant and critical contexts for developing children, and have played an integral role in American immigration history. However, a scholarly attention to the role of faiths, spirituality, and religious institutions in the lives of immigrants is a relatively new endeavor. Jasso and colleagues report that Christianity constituted approximately two thirds of the New Immigrant Survey-Pilot immigrants, and over 41% reported attending religious services weekly or more often. Notwithstanding the importance of faith traditions and religious communities to the lives of many immigrant families, spiritual capital has not been applied to understanding the unique experiences and trajectories of immigrant children and youth. This chapter explores the developmental significance of spiritual capital at three levels of social contexts: (1) family settings, (2) social networks, and (3) organizations and institutions. In addition to an interdisciplinary review of the literature, we draw from the MetroBaby Qualitative Studies of the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education, to ground our synthesis in longitudinal qualitative data - field notes and parent in-depth interview transcripts drawn from predominantly low-income, Chinese, Dominican and Mexican, first-generation immigrant mothers raising young children. We draw on empirical evidence to theorize how spiritual capital might shape developmental goals and experiences of children of immigrants from infancy to adolescence across proximal settings. To highlight the links between particular settings and specific outcomes, we further identify moderators and developmental mechanisms that add complex layers to our portrayal of spiritual capital in the lives of immigrant families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationContributions to Human Development
EditorsCynthia Garcia Coll
Number of pages22
StatePublished - Dec 5 2012

Publication series

NameContributions to Human Development
ISSN (Print)0301-4193
ISSN (Electronic)1664-2570


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this