how they should act (Phinney and Kohatsu, 1997). Even if they acquire the cultural capital of the dominant group, they may find that members of that group have greater power to define the values and norms that are operative within a setting (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977). In other ways it may be easier, in that minority groups learn more than one culture. As society continues to become more culturally diverse, such multicultural knowledge can become an asset, provided that the individual has gained the social skills needed to flourish in the dominant culture or in multicultural niches where the ability to navigate more than one culture is critical (LaFromboise et al., 1993).

All of these issues manifest themselves in varying ways in the daily settings of adolescents’ lives, including their participation in community programs. The cultural perspective suggests a need to expand the earlier notion of person-environment fit to include cultural fit. Given that youth may be walking in the door with widely differing cultural backgrounds, knowledge, and agendas, it is essential that community programs be sensitive to how they are experienced by different youth. Taking the positive side, community programs can have an important role in assisting youth with addressing developmental issues of cultural belonging, which can be particularly acute in a changing and multicultural society.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement