Rock, Rap, or Reggaeton? Assessing Mexican Immigrants’ Cultural Assimilation Using Facebook Data

René Flores, University of Chicago
Ian Stewart, Georgia Institute of Technology
Emilio Zagheni , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Ingmar Weber, Qatar Computing Research Institute
Timothy Riffe, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The degree to which Mexican immigrants in the U.S. are assimilating culturally has been widely debated. To examine this question, we focus on musical taste, a symbolic resource that signals an individual's social position. We adapt an assimilation metric to analyze self-reported musical interests among immigrants in Facebook. We use the relative levels of interest in musical genres, where a similarity to the host population in musical preferences is treated as evidence of cultural assimilation. Contrary to skeptics of Mexican assimilation, we find significant cultural convergence even among first-generation immigrants, which problematizes their use as assimilative “benchmarks” in the literature. Further, 2nd generation Mexican Americans show high cultural convergence vis-a`-vis both Anglos and African-Americans, with the exception of those who speak Spanish. Rather than conforming to a single assimilation path, our findings reveal how Mexican immigrants defy simple unilinear theoretical expectations and illuminate their uniquely heterogeneous character.

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 Presented in Session 168. Immigrant Integration and Incorporation