Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Making Sense of the Mix: Understanding the Role of Family Dynamics in the Racial Identity Experiences of Black-white Emerging Adults
by Austin, Crystal L., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2018, 90; 10935202
Abstract (Summary)

As a population, Black-White (B-W) biracial individuals have been relatively overlooked and underserved in the psychological literature. Although some theoretical attention has been paid to the racial identity development of biracial individuals, research is lacking on the psychological processes influencing the identity experiences of these individuals (Rockquemore et al., 2009). Specifically, little is known about how adults’ family-of-origin dynamics influence the racial identity construction process of B-W individuals.

The current study was designed to provide a rich understanding of how some B-W biracial emerging adults construct a racial identity when they were raised by monoracial parents. The general research question was: how do Black-White biracial emerging adults view the role of family dynamics in their racial identity experiences? Theories of racial identity (Poston, 1990; Rockquemore & Brunsma, 2002), parental attachment (Ainsworth, 1991), racial socialization (Hughes & Johnson, 2001), and family systems theory (Bowen, 1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988) were used to inform the study. The research question builds on the relevant literature in that racial identity is viewed as complex and informed by multiple layers of individuals’ identities and environments.

Giorgi’s (2009) phenomenological analysis was used to identify salient themes in participants’ narratives in order to develop a rich conceptual understanding of the racial identity construction process for B-W biracial individuals. Initial and follow-up interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 10 B-W emerging adults. The recorded interviews were transcribed and analyzed by a coding team. Fourteen sub-themes were identified from the narrative data, organized into three larger themes: Interactions with Family Members Contributed to Individuals’ Experience and Understanding of Race, Experience of Race and Racial Tension Affected Family Dynamics, and How the Family Addressed Racial/Biracial Identity was Influential. The thematic results (e.g., Awareness That Neither Parent Could Fully Relate to the Biracial Experience, Allyship/connectedness with the Parent of Color due to Shared Experiences of Marginalization) were consistent with the literature on the role of racial socialization and family dynamics in racial identity construction. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for theory, practice, and future research with this population.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Friedlander, Myrna L.
Commitee: Pieterse, Alex L., Wissman, Kelly
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Counseling Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 80/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Biracial, Emerging adults, Family dynamics, Family systems, Racial identity
Publication Number: 10935202
ISBN: 9780438414648
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