Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Brandi N. Frisby


Approximately 15% of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses that shared different racial or ethnic backgrounds from one another. Socha and Diggs (1999) began to examine race as both an outcome of family communication as well as a factor that influences children's communication development in families because of the social pressure multiethnic families endure to fit a nuclear family model. This study utilized dyadic interviews of eleven multiethnic parent couples (N = 22 individuals; 11 dyads) in order to gain a deeper understanding of Hispanic-Caucasian multiethnic family systems. Communication in families plays a foundational role in many aspects of society and socialization of the young. However, slim research has addressed how communication in families affects the understandings of ethnicity and the formation of social identities as a social construction (see Hecht, Collier, & Ribeau, 1993; Socha & Diggs, 1999; Socha, Sanchez-Hucles, Bromley, & Kelly, 1995).

Researchers in the social sciences, especially in communication, must recognize that the sanctuary of the home may be generating the keys to understanding problems concerning social identity formation and diversity. Thus, there is a need for communication research at the crossroads of ethnicity, family, and identity. This dissertation highlights family factors that may influence Hispanic-Caucasian multiethnic children’s social identities as well as family communication within Hispanic-Caucasian multiethnic family systems. This study explicates multiethnic families through the lens of communication accommodation theory (CAT; Giles, 1973), social identity theory (SIT; Tajfel & Turner, 1979), and self-categorization theory (SCT; Turner, 1985; Turner, 1987), explicitly overviewing the intersection of interpersonal and intergroup communication (Giles, 2012).

This study provides insights to both theoretical expansion and practical application within Hispanic-Caucasian multiethnic family systems. Ultimately, this study addresses questions such as: a) How do Hispanic-Caucasian multiethnic family systems communicate surrounding topics of race and ethnicity, b) How do Hispanic-Caucasian multiethnic families discuss components of social identity (e.g., ethnic identification for multiethnic children), and c) What challenges are unique to Hispanic-Caucasian multiethnic family systems?

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)