Spanish-language media

From politics of resistance to politics of pan-ethnicity

Authored by: Xavier Medina Vidal , Federico Subervi-Vélez

Routledge Handbook of Chicana/o Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138847873
eBook ISBN: 9781315726366
Adobe ISBN:


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Chicanismo in the early 21st century, the Hispanic/Latino era of politics in the United States, has been isolated and siloed by many scholars and even by many political activists still seeking a place of power within American society. To be sure, for all generations of Mexican-origin people, mass media have been essential to their cultural, social and political survival. Throughout the different stages of mexicanos’ history in the United States and at varying degrees, Spanish-language (and Latina/o-oriented) mass media have confronted the forces of colonialism, assimilation and acculturation directly, making them among the most important agents of political socialization for Chicanas/os. As agents of socialization, Spanish-language media serve both pluralizing and acculturating functions for all Latinas/os. In their acculturating function, Spanish-language media can provide news, information and socialization content that can contribute to Latinas/os’ knowledge about the dominant political system, voting, political mobilization and other activities that foment involvement with the “American way of life.” Simultaneously, Spanish-language media act as pluralizing agents that highlight issues, arts and culture that reflect Hispanic and Latin American identity (Subervi-Vélez 2008b, pp. 60–63). Evidence of this acculturation function is seen through the lens of a growing “latinidad” slowly chipping away at specific or distinct Chicana/o identities. Compared to English-language general market media, many Spanish-language media promote a sense of group consciousness among all Latina/o groups that reinforces similarities of Latinas/os from different national ancestries (Kerevel 2011, p. 510), and they are among the strongest forces behind the fomentation of pan-Hispanic group identity (Abrajano & Álvarez 2010, p. 33). Simultaneously, Spanish-language media reinforce differences with the dominant United States, English-speaking culture by playing a direct role in mobilizing mass political demonstrations against prejudicial policies and in favor of Latina/o-specific policy goals, and even stimulating naturalization among Latino immigrants (Félix et al. 2008, p. 632). That is, for Chicanas and Chicanos, Spanish-language media are a critical link between the activism of their ancestors and their own contemporary experiences with Latina/o immigrant-oriented activism.

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