Vikki Katz

Graduated: August, 2007

Committee:
Sandra Ball-Rokeach (chair)
Michael Cody, Peggy McLaughlin, Robert Rueda

Dissertation Title:
From Conversation to Conversion: Children’s Efforts to Translate Their Immigrant Families’ Social Networks into Community Connections

My dissertation focused on new immigrant Latino families in South Los Angeles, and particularly, on the roles that children play as potential linguistic, cultural and technological brokers of connections between their parents and local community organizations. From a theoretical base of communication infrastructure theory (Ball-Rokeach et al., 2001; Kim & Ball-Rokeach, 2006), I investigated the types of social capital (Ream, 2005) embedded in family, resident networks, local media, and community institutions and organizations.

Through survey analyses, ethnographic observation, and in-depth interviews with parents, children, and English speaking service providers in the community, I found, contrary to the literature, that the families who were most linguistically isolated still have rich interpersonal networks that are potential sources of social capital. The key issue, however, is the kinds of information resources lacking in their social networks. I found that there were times when children were the link between their families and crucial information resources from schools, health care, and other service institutions in the community. However, the efforts of children, in cooperation with their parents, to provide these links were constrained by a number of observable factors. The dissertation discussed these findings, and suggested specific communicative intervention possibilities to enable these children to be community brokers for their families, and to enable their parents to more effectively
tap into services that can help their children.

I am a postdoctoral research associate on the Metamorphosis Project at the Annenberg School for the 2007-2008 year. For current information, please see: www.vikkikatz.com and www.metamorph.org