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Recent Journal Articles

McConnell, Eileen Díaz, Connor Sheehan, and Angelica Lopez. 2023. “An Intersectional and

Social Determinants of Health Framework for Understanding Latinx Psychological Distress in 2020:  Disentangling the Effects of Immigration Policy and Practices, the Trump Administration, and COVID-19 Specific Factors.” Journal of Latinx Psychology. 11(1): 1-20.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted U.S. communities of color, such as the Latino/x population. The pandemic coincides with other major contemporary structural factors affecting Latinxs, including the effects of U.S. immigration policies and President Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and priorities. Yet, the independent and simultaneous implications of the larger sociopolitical climate and specific COVID-19 concerns for Latinx mental health remain less clear. The present study uses an intersectional and social determinants of health framework to examine these relationships. Multivariable regression models were estimated with three waves of population-based panel data from the Pew American Trends Study (collected between 2019 and 2020) with Latinx adults (n = 1,132). We simultaneously examined how worries regarding deportation, respondents’ citizenship and legal status, perceptions regarding the Trump Administration, anti-Hispanic discrimination, and pandemicrelated concerns predicted variation in Latinx self-reported psychological distress, after adjusting for other important covariates. We also conducted analyses separately by gender. The results indicated that worrying about a family member or a friend being deported, perceiving higher anti-Hispanic discrimination, and viewing coronavirus as a threat to respondents’ personal health and finances were significantly associated with higher levels of psychological distress. Stratified analyses revealed that gender filters the ways that some of these stressors affect the mental health of Latinas, such as perceived threats about deportation, compared to Latinos. Taken together, this work demonstrates the diverse social determinants shaping Latinx mental health in intersectional ways early in the pandemic.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz and Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz, M. (2023). "Between Demographic Optimism and Pessimism?: Exploring “Neither Good nor Bad” Responses About Future Ethnoracial Diversification Among U.S. Whites." Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 20(1), 163-190.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2060, Latinx, African Americans, Asians, and other “minority” groups will together comprise the majority of the country’s population. Past research has found that non-Hispanic Whites, hereafter Whites, find such projections disquieting or threatening. Yet, recent surveys reveal that when given more than binary good/bad choices, most Whites opt for the middle-point response that this development will be “neither good nor bad for the country.” How can we account for this seemingly ambiguous evaluation of projected ethnoracial demographic futures? Using eight waves of nationally representative U.S. survey data collected between 2015 and 2018, this article begins to unpack the “neither” response among Whites, exploring what it might mean and what factors are associated with it, relative to seemingly optimistic and pessimistic stances. Multinomial Logistic Regression analyses and additional descriptive analyses indicate that “neither good nor bad” in this context is a substantive response: White “Neithers” are socio-demographically and attitudinally distinct from their counterparts. Our study demonstrates the value of moving beyond an exclusive focus on expressions of demographic threat and pessimism. Moreover, it invites further investigation into factors that inform and shape how Whites and other ethnoracial populations in the U.S. understand and assess projected population shifts. 

McConnell, Eileen Díaz and Lisa M. Martínez. 2022. “Immigration Threat Amplifiers and Whites’ Immigration Attitudes in the Age of Trump.” Migration Letters. 19(3): 315-330.

The US public’s immigration attitudes have become more favourable in recent years, yet the Trump administration (2017- 2021) was the most restrictionist on immigration of any modern US presidency. What key sociopolitical factors were associated with holding more exclusionary immigration attitudes and policy preferences among US whites, the ethnoracial group most likely to support Trump, at the beginning of his administration? Analyses of two waves of nationally representative US panel survey data for whites demonstrate that voting for Trump, consuming conservative news, being evangelical, and having a stronger white racial identity were linked with more exclusionary abstract immigration attitudes and/or support for one more Trump-era policies: the US-Mexico wall, the Travel Ban targeting majority-Muslim countries, and deportations of unauthorised immigrants. Together, our results emphasise the value of attending to multiple aspects of the national sociopolitical context, considering diverse potential sources that amplify immigration threat, and jointly examining abstract immigration attitudes and specific policy preferences of varying salience.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz. 2022. “‘It Could be 3 million, It Could be 30 Million’: Quantitative

Misperceptions about Undocumented Immigration and Immigration Attitudes in the Trump Era.” Latino Studies 20: 242-279.

Recent changes in the sociopolitical US landscape calls for the examination of the level of quantitative misperception about undocumented immigration and its connection with immigration attitudes. Nationally representative survey data are used to analyze whether being misinformed about the proportion of US immigrants that are undocumented in 2015 is linked with abstract immigration attitudes and four immigration policy options in 2016. The results reveal that people who overestimated undocumented immigration—a common misperception—are more likely to report that all immigrants present symbolic threats to the country than are their accurately informed peers. Consistent with the especially high salience of the US–Mexico wall in this period, overestimators also place more importance on building the wall but not on other policy options. These findings have important theoretical and real-world implications, given the current social and political context and spillover effects on Latinx and other racialized communities.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz, Neal Christopherson, and Michelle Janning. 2021. “We’ve Come a Long Way, But We Could be Doing Better: Gendered Commentary in U.S. Media Coverage of the 1999 and 2019 Women’s World Cup.” Sociology of Sport Journal 39(1): 88-98.

In 2019, the U.S. Women’s National Team earned its fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup. Has gendered commentary in media coverage about the U.S. Women’s National Team changed since winning their first World Cup 20 years ago? Drawing on 188 newspaper articles published in three U.S. newspapers in 2019, the analyses contrast media representations of the 2019 team with a previous study focused on coverage of the 1999 team. Our analysis shows important shifts in the coverage over time. The 1999 team was popular because of their contradictory femininity in which they were “strong-yet-soft.” By 2019, the team’s popularity was rooted in their talent, hard work, success, and refusal to be silent about persisting gender-based disparities in sport and the larger society.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz and Aggie J. Yellow Horse. 2021. “Vulnerable and Resilient: Legal

Status, Family Routines and Maternal Knowledge in Mexican and Central American-origin Families in Los Angeles.” International Migration Review. 55(2): 514-546.

How do unauthorized immigrant parents promote family functioning to navigate challenging conditions and contexts in the United States? This article offers the first quantitative analyses contrasting the family organization and maternal knowledge of Mexican and Central-American immigrant mothers by legal status. Using Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey data with a sample of mothers of school-aged children, the analyses investigate whether mothers’ documentation status, origin country/region, and access to social and instrumental support are associated with the frequency of family dinners, the consistency of family routines, and the knowledge of their child’s associations and friendships. Relative to their US-born and documented Mexican immigrant counterparts, undocumented Mexican immigrant mothers have as many or more frequent family dinners, more predictable family routines, and the same level of knowledge about whom their child is with when not at home. Whom mothers can rely on for emergency childcare and financial support also is linked with both family organization and levels of maternal knowledge about their child. More quantitative research is needed about how undocumented immigrant parents actively employ different family functioning strategies to promote strengths and resiliency in their lives in the midst of challenging contexts driven by lack of legal status.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz, Rebecca M. B. White, and Andrea Vest Ettekal. 2020. “Participation in Organized Activities among Mexican and other Latino Youth in Los Angeles:  Variation by Mother’s Documentation Status and Youth’s Age.” Applied Developmental Science. 24(1): 79-96.

Although organized activities promote positive youth development, Latina/os are least likely to participate among ethnic minority youth. This study tested whether an indicator of social stratification, namely mothers’ documentation status (i.e., nativity, citizenship, and legal status), explained low activity participation rates among Mexican and other Latino youth. As a secondary goal, this study tests competing hypotheses about whether the relation between documentation status and participation varied by youth age. Using Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey data, regression results indicated that Latino youth with unauthorized immigrant mothers were significantly less likely to participate in organized activities than those with native-born mothers, controlling for other variables. Post-estimation analyses indicated that participation gaps associated with mothers’ documentation status were larger for older than younger Latino youth. These findings suggest that documentation may function on a developmental continuum and that there was a developmental amplification of the effects of parents’ documentation status on youth activity participation.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz. 2019. “Numbers, Narratives, and Nation:  Mainstream News Coverage of 1990-2010 U.S. Latino Population Growth.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. 5(4): 500-517.

Ideologies that support racial domination and White supremacy remain foundational in U.S. society, even as the nation becomes increasingly diverse and progressively focused on quantitative measurement. This study explores how a prominent mainstream news outlet represents the growth of the nation’s second largest population, Latinos, within this changing demographic and numeric environment. Drawing from two frameworks, the Latino Threat Narrative and Color-Blind Racism, quantitative and qualitative analyses are conducted with 174 Los Angeles Times (LAT) articles about 2000 and 2010 census results. Reporters for the LAT, located in the single most important U.S. location for Latinos, frame Latinos and their population dynamics in line with the overtly racist narrative of Latino threat and the covertly racist ideology of color-blind racism. Moreover, the analyses reveal that quantitative logics circulating in the present evaluative climate further the view that Latinos pose cultural-demographic threats to the nation. Quantification also enhances color-blind frames and rhetorical strategies justifying present-day racial stratification and the subordinate locations of non-White groups. This suggests how White supremacy retains its power as the populations and metrics of evaluation change. Finally, given recent research linking demographic trends and media representations with attitudes, policy positions, and political partisanship, these representations have implications for the well-being of Latinos, other populations, and the nation.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz. 2017. “Rented, Crowded, and Unaffordable? Social Vulnerabilities and

the Accumulation of Precarious Housing Conditions in Los Angeles.” Housing Policy Debate. 27(1): 60-79.

Inspired by the social vulnerability paradigm employed in hazard and disaster research and recent work connecting personal and housing vulnerabilities, this study uses the first wave of Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey data to: (a) examine immigrants’ legal status as an independent social vulnerability that increases the risk of two or more of the following situations deemed to be precarious: renting, crowding, and unaffordable housing; (b) identify the individual-, household-, and neighborhood-level vulnerabilities associated with overlapping housing problems; and (c) identify the distribution of housing disadvantages across social groups. The sample comprises those born in the United States who are Black, White, and Latino, and three distinct Latino immigrant groups categorized by citizenship and legal status. The descriptive and multivariate regression results have implications for expanding hazard, disaster, and housing research and practice.

McConnell, Eileen Díaz. 2015. “Hurdles or Walls? Nativity, Citizenship, Legal Status and Latino Homeownership in Los Angeles.” Social Science Research. 53: 19-33.

Homeownership is directly and indirectly linked with many positive child, adult, and community-level outcomes. Prior research offers strong evidence that nativity and immigrants’ citizenship status shapes U.S. homeownership, but relatively little work has explored how immigrants’ legal status is connected with homeownership. This study draws from locational attainment and classic assimilation theories to develop hypotheses about sources of intra-Latino heterogeneity in homeownership. Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey data are used to contrast four distinct groups of Latinos: U.S. born natives, naturalized citizens, authorized non-citizens, and unauthorized non-citizens. Logistic regression results indicate baseline and residual variation in Latino homeownership based on immigrant citizenship and legal status. Of these, unauthorized non-citizens are the least likely to own their home. The results provide support for all three theoretical models, particularly the place stratification perspective. The results also point to the need for more housing studies that jointly examine citizenship and legal status.

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