Cultural Stress Theory in the Context of Family Crisis Migration: Implications for Behavioral Health with Illustrations from the Adelante Boricua Study

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, Eric C. Brown, Melissa Bates, José Rodríguez, María Fernanda García, Seth J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and torrential rains that ravaged the United States territory. In the midst of the crisis, several hundred thousand Maria survivors boarded humanitarian flights and cruise ships, seeking refuge on the United States mainland. More than three years later, tens of thousands of post-Maria migrants remain on the mainland as long-term emigres. In this article, we lay the theoretical/conceptual groundwork for researchers and practitioners interested in understanding the experiences of post-Maria migrants. Specifically, we aim to assist readers in thinking deeply about: [1] why many Puerto Ricans relocated, [2] the experiences of post-Maria migrants en movimiento, and [3] how such experiences shape their lives, behavior, and well-being. In understanding the experiences of post-Maria migrants, several theories/constructs emerge as especially salient. These include “push and pull” models, cultural stress theory and its transnational variants, the concept of crisis migration, and models of cumulative risk. We provide a succinct overview of each of these theories/constructs and describe the broad perspectives that serve as a foundational or orienting paradigm for our work (i.e., the life course perspective, the strengths perspective, and an ecodevelopmental framework). Finally, we provide illustrations of how these theories/concepts apply to emerging data from the Adelante Boricua study, an ongoing research project with post-Maria migrant youth and their parents, supported by funding from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-608
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Criminal Justice
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Discrimination
  • Family
  • Migration
  • Puerto Rico
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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