Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics


Neighborhood attachment, defined as an individual's feelings about their social commitment to a particular community, has been a central focus of studies involving space and place (Smith 1975) and community activism (Guest and Lee 1983, Crenshaw and St. John 1989) in the U.S. Yet despite the advancement of this work and a growing body of qualitative research exploring the dynamic experiences of immigrants and their descendants in particular communities, it is not clear how being born in the U.S. versus Mexico or Latin America impacts the formation of neighborhood attachment among Latinos. This limits our understanding of urban renewal, as the growth of the Hispanic population has been identified as a key source of recent revitalization in American cities.

My research employs mixed methods to investigate the experiences of low-income Latino households in six urban neighborhoods across the U.S., with a focus on Latinos of Mexican descent in San Antonio, Texas. My main objective is to compare levels of neighborhood attachment between U.S.-born and foreign-born Latinos and to understand the financial, contextual, and social factors that influence these perceptions. I use data from the Making Connections Survey, a neighborhood-based longitudinal study funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to investigate the influence of demographic and household characteristics, socioeconomic factors, neighborhood conditions and social networks on six distinct components of neighborhood attachment. To expand on the survey findings, I conducted in-depth interviews with a subsample of Latino households that participated in the survey in San Antonio. I use a grounded approach to explore the contexts in which social interaction via informal and formal networks influence native-born Latinos' everyday experiences of family and community, and how cultural practices and social organization attach meaning to residents' commitment to places. My findings help illuminate the processes and mechanisms through which neighborhood effects are transmitted in a particular context (Sampson et al 2002).

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