Cultural Orientation Gaps within a Family Systems Perspective




Bamaca-Colbert, Mayra Y.
Henry, Carolyn S.
Perez-Brena, Norma J.
Gayles, Jochebed G.
Martinez, Griselda

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National Council on Family Relations


The intersection of a family's heritage culture and new mainstream cultural norms results in person-to-person differences in values, beliefs, and behaviors, particularly among immigrant families. These differences often lead to divergent cultural views and patterns of behavior both within and between family members. According to the acculturation gap distress hypothesis, these cultural orientation gaps between family members have consequences for family functioning, and, in particular, adolescents' adjustment. Studies supporting this notion have primarily focused on processes in parent-adolescent dyads. Although scholarship on family cultural gaps emerged from a systems perspective, application of key systems tenets are notably limited in existing work. In this paper, we review the background and current state of research on family cultural gaps, provide an overview of key principles of systems perspectives, and then, integrate the cultural gap literature with key systems principles to identify future directions in research and theory.



cultural-orientation, family systems, immigrant families, cultural gap, acculturation, adolescence, Family and Consumer Sciences


Bámaca-Colbert, M. Y., Henry, C. S., Perez-Brena, N., Gayles, J. G., & Martinez, G. (2019). Cultural orientation gaps within a family systems perspective. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 11(4), pp. 524–543.


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