Mexican Americans toward action: a study in barrio leadership recognition



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This thesis reports an investigation of two hypotheses: (1) there exists a low recognition of leaders in the barrio: and leadership recognition is directly related to educational status, occupational rank,, degree of assimilation, and access to communication media. The locale for the study was the Magnolia community in Houston, Texas. This barrio is a residential area with a tradition of being the oldest Mexican American enclave in the city. All "interviews were conducted by barrio residents. It is believed that this use of marginal informants is essential to meaningful survey research in the barrio. With reference to Mexican Americans, the professional literature is minimal and suggests that, for all practical purposes, the barrio is without leaders. In specific, what literature does exist on Mexican American leadership has mainly focused either upon leadership "types� or upon the characteristics of "influentials." Although a number of assumptions have been made in the literature regarding the relationship between leadership and the characteristics of the barrio, none of these assumptions have been tested empirically. The writer thus undertook to investigate the relationship between leadership recognition and educational status, occupational rank, degree of assimilation, and access to communication media. The writer's two hypotheses wore tested and verified. It is held that low leadership recognition is characteristically low in the barrio because low education, low occupational rank, low rate of assimilation, and low rate of access to communication media perpetuate a lower status simulating that of Gunnar Myrdal's "vicious circle." This "vicious circle" is kept intact by discrimination and prejudice on part of the dominant Anglo group. It is evident from the findings of this thesis that low leadership recognition trends among Mexican Americans are not apt to disappear until the "vicious circle" has become a part of the barrio past.