Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Elena Bastidas

Second Advisor

Mary Hope Schwoebel


conflict resolution, cultural conflict, epistemology, ethnic studies, grounded theory, intra-personal conflict, Latin American women, meaning-making


This grounded theory study explored the competing cultural expectations and cultural approaches by women from Latin American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries living in the United States. The study explored the following questions: In what ways do women from Latin America living in the United States establish priorities among potentially conflicting cultural expectations or roles? What internal conflicts result out of living between two cultures? What does the process for making sense of cultural expectations look like? How do Latin American women living in the United States make sense of this process? Using a constructivist grounded methodology, the research reflects the insights of 20 female participants from various Latin American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. The data analysis resulted in five major findings, illuminating a framework for understanding the process for making sense of conflicting cultural norms, expectations, and cultural approaches. This is presented in four stages, (1) confronting the new norm/expectation, (2) recognition/acknowledgment of the conflicting cultural value/norm/expectation, (3) adapting to the new context/situation and (4) managing from a cultural standpoint. The main decision-making process related to cultural expectations was tied to: (a) what it meant to be a woman from their native country in the United States and (b) what this means when they return to their country of origin. Concluding with “creating a new norm/dynamic,” this becomes the “balancing act” or “the dance between cultures."