The use of “culture” as an analytical category by social scientists presents an opportunity to examine how professional discursive formations are used to make empirical assertions. The social fact of culture is neither uniform nor unitary. Traditionally, culture has been thought of as a product of disciplinary research, not necessarily a variable for empirical study. When culture is used as a tool or instrument of scientific methodology, it loses its fluid nature as a disciplinary discourse. In this essay, I examine the specific discussion of the epidemiologic health paradox that states that the Chicano/Mexican immigrant “culture” serves as a protective factor against many maladies that afflict other U.S. populations. Since the 1970s, this discussion of culture as a protective factor provides an interesting exposition of the uses of culture by empirical scholars.

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