Catholic Latina Identities and Romantic Relationships
Ethnicity and religion are two essential sources of identity and meaning for Latinas, even as they are negotiated by each person differently. This study utilized Ann Swidler's (1986; 2001) cultural tool kit framework to investigate how Latinas negotiate their ethnic and religious identities when making romantic decisions. This study conducted in-depth (semiconstructed) interviews of 20 Catholic Latinas between the ages of 20 to 30 to better understand how they negotiate their ethnic and religious cultural identities and comprehend romance. The participants in this study varied in age, occupation, educational levels, and linguistic capabilities. Rather than passively accepting familial expectations, religious dictates, and ethnic prescriptions of gender, my respondents actively and creatively construct their own pragmatically useful understandings of what it means to be Catholic and Latina and how those meanings are to influence romantic relationships. Catholic and Latina identities are not discrete foundations of cultural resources but are inextricably linked to incorporate ethnoreligious dimensions to facilitate their romantic choices. My study unfolds how my respondents’ romantic choices are constituted by and products of their ongoing negotiations of Catholic and Latina identity. The findings of this project will contribute to an ongoing dialogue within Latino communities regarding sensitive subjects such as identities, gender expectations, familial pressures, and religious influences. Lastly, this study's social implications strive to help foster a constructive environment for Latinas and others to reexamine their identities.