Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The "ideal self" stands alone: A phenomenological psychological descriptive analysis of Anglo Saxon American self-concept formation in relation to ancestral connectedness
by Cutler, Ame, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2014, 170; 3611459
Abstract (Summary)

This descriptive phenomenological study investigated Anglo Saxon Americans' lived experience of self-identity. The focus was to determine if construction of their self-concepts was influenced by Ancestral connectedness, characterized by: (a) lived recognition of one's Ancestral origins and the experience of connection to one's larger constellation of familial lineage, (b) reverent encounter with one's Ancestors on a daily basis as expressed in Ancestor communion, and (c) felt responsibility to ensure the Ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition toward the living through the practice of remembering the Ancestors in active storytelling, prayers to the Ancestors, and the making of libations and offerings to the Ancestors. Three Anglo Saxon Americans participated in the study. Each participant completed two half-hour, one-on-one, in-person interviews and also completed a demographic questionnaire about his or her background. Participants were asked to describe (a) their identities and how they understand themselves, (b) their understanding or definition of Ancestor, (c) how they think about their Ancestors, and (d) how their connectedness to their Ancestors influence their self-identities. Giorgi's (1985, 2009) four-step descriptive phenomenological method was used to analyze the data and produce a psychological description of the phenomenon studied. Study results revealed a general structure for the Anglo Saxon American self-concept in relation to Ancestral connectedness consisting of eight constituents: (a) a lack of importance placed on the question of self-identity, (b) an emphasis on individuality and separation, (c) a negative approach to self-identity, (d) changes in self-identity independent of Ancestry, (e) awareness of the White race and its privileges, (f) socioeconomic status, (g) an unconscious Ancestral influence, and (h) no establishment of a positive Ancestral influence on self-identity. The results also revealed a limited amount of conscious understanding of one's Ancestral origins and personal connection to a larger constellation of familial lineage, suggesting partial fulfillment of the first criterion of Ancestral connectedness. However, this was the extent of the lived experience of Ancestral connectedness in relation to the Anglo Saxon American self-identity formation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Giorgi, Amedeo
Commitee: Jackson, Theopia, Kremer, Jurgen
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Cultural anthropology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Africentric psychology, Ancestors, Ancestral connectedness, Anglo Saxon Americans, Self-identity
Publication Number: 3611459
ISBN: 978-1-303-72222-6
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