Neighborhood-level predictors of African American and Latinx parents' ethnic–racial socialization

Dawn P. Witherspoon, Ciara Smalls Glover, Wei Wei, Diane L. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Few studies examine how neighborhood structural factors (e.g., socioeconomic status [SES] and diversity) and perceived disorder may influence the messages parents communicate to their youth about race/ethnicity. Guided by the integrative model and social disorganization theory, this study examines how parents' ethnic–racial socialization messages (ERS) are shaped by the broader environment. Data come from the MacArthur Studies of Diversity in Midlife. Latinx and African American parents N = 508 (Mage = 39) with a child between 6- and 17-years old living in two urban US cities were included. Cultural perceptions were assessed at both the individual level (e.g., perceived discrimination and ethnic affirmation) and neighborhood level along with demographic and structural neighborhood characteristics at the individual and neighborhood level, respectively. Multilevel analyses revealed that at both the individual level and neighborhood levels, perceived neighborhood problems were associated with more frequent messages about ethnicity and race (e.g., cultural socialization and preparation for bias). In addition, neighborhood-level affirmation promoted cultural messages; in contrast, neighborhood-level discrimination experiences positively impacted preparation for unfair treatment. Results reveal how parents' ERS is informed by their own characteristics as well as neighborhood factors. Further, cross-level interactions were found. Findings are discussed in terms of contextual and cultural-developmental theorizing about parenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-200
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Black/African American
  • Cultural socialization
  • Ethnic–racial socialization messages
  • Families
  • Latino/Latinx
  • Preparation for bias
  • neighborhoods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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