Recentering our tendencies: Immigrant youth development and the importance of context in social work research


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Complex historic and structural constraints disproportionally disadvantage many low-income immigrant youth in the United States. This conceptual article summarizes scholarship on how local context influences their development and argues that the social work profession needs to attend to the diverse settings where immigrant youth are coming of age to design effective interventions. We use three recent studies of different environmental contexts—urban neighborhoods, suburban municipalities, and high school classrooms—to illustrate how they influence the trajectories of immigrant youth. We argue that the social work profession needs to recenter the person-in-environment perspective toward more context-focused interventions to support immigrant youth. We conclude with areas for further research to advance the profession’s understanding of immigrant youth development.

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