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Fathering and Acculturation: Immigrant Indian Families With Young Children, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

Anjui Jain and Jay Belsky’s (1997) study provides some insight into the possible effects of acculturation on the child-rearing practices of immigrant fathers, but the study hosts a number of crippling limitations.

First, the researchers study only Indian immigrants. Immigrants from other nations might be very different. While many of the Indian immigrants, Jain and Belsky study care a great deal about tradition,  immigrants with less pleasant traditions might be more inclined to give up their cultures. It would be more helpful to look at samples from many different cultures, to see whether acculturation affected each in the same way. Furthermore, they study only Indian immigrants in Pennsylvania. Acculturation might have different effects on immigrants outside of Pennsylvania. Since different states have different cultures, acculturation in Texas, for instance might have different effects on child-rearing than it does in Pennsylvania. A more in-depth study might have looked at acculturation in various states. Worse still, since all the information for recruitment was taken from one place, the study might have recruited only a specific type of Indian immigrant – the type that joined the organization (Jain & Jay, 1997).

Second, the researchers measured parental involvement over the course of dinner time. Dinner time might not be the best time to measure responses. Some working fathers might be away or detached at dinner time, but very involved at other times. It might have been better for the authors not to have picked dinner time, but weekend days or vacation time to get an accurate picture of how involved fathers could be. Alternatively, they could have observed the fathers’ interaction with their children at different days and times to get a more accurate picture of how involved each was (Jain & Jay, 1997).

The study also observed only families with children between the ages of 18 and 44 months. Some of these children are probably still breastfed and rely heavily on mothering. Fathers often do not get as close as mothers do to such young children. They often become more involved with children when they feel able to teach them sports or take them on more male-oriented outings like camping or fishing. The study might have been improved if they had considered this factor as well and examined interactions between fathers and children of older ages (Jain & Jay, 1997).

The research methodology was also somewhat flawed. They claim that before they conducted their observations, they told the families what would go on. Only families who agreed to this were surveyed and because each person knew about the survey, they may have performed for it. Also questionable is Jain and Belsky’s (1997) measurement of a family’s “indianess.” They judged this, in part, by looking for Indian artifacts throughout houses. But this means the study relies on the ability of the surveyors to identify objects from other cultures. They might not have recognized every Indian object as Indian and they may have missed objects as they looked around.

The observation of “Indianess” is not an exact science. It is based partially on the observer’s opinion. Indeed, much of the study centers on people’s opinions. In addition to examining the observers’ opinions about the “Indianess” of objects in immigrants’ homes, the researchers also examine surveys of immigrants’ feelings, attitudes and self-reported behavior. Basing a study around data provided by opinions might not be the best way to obtain accuracy.

The study might also have turned out differently if they had not examined only 2 minute episodes. It is possible for a parent to be detached for two minutes, but very devoted the next minute. This part of the study relies on observers to pick appropriate two-minute segments. Larger time frames might allow for more interaction. Examining whether or not this was true might have made the study more compelling.

In their justification for their study, the researchers’ remark that although the affect of acculturation on the child-rearing of immigrant women has been previously documented, little research has been done on the affect acculturation has had on fathering. Their study is meant to focus on fathers, but they do not seem to be able to include observations of women. In one part, they take into account the unemployment of women in the home, but they do not specify how many men are unemployed. This information might have been more helpful as unemployed men might be in a better position to interact with their children (Jain & Jay, 1997).

The study does not take into account that the amount of time a father works might affect his energy and his availability to his children. A father who works full-time may be very tired, even on his breaks. This might affect his child-rearing practices more than acculturation. It is possible that fathers, who seemed detached in this study, were simply hard workers, tired out from their labor.

Jain and Belsky (1997) claim that each observed parent was told how the survey worked. Parents were encouraged to behave normally, but few people act normally when they know they are being observed. The tendency is to display the sort of behavior those observing will appreciate. Nevertheless, observing people in their homes without explaining fully what sort of research one is doing might not be ethical. Therefore, while doing so might have made the study less accurate, the authors may have been perfectly right to let observers explain the survey to those they studied (Jain & Jay, 1997).

The researchers create a good starting point for research on the affect of acculturation on immigrant fathers, but the accuracy of their study is questionable and their methodology could be improved.

Works Cited

Jain, A., & Jay, B. (1997). Fathering and Acculturation: Immigrant Indian Families with Young Families. Journal of Marriage and the Family , 59 (4), 873-883.

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