Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ethnic identity development in multi-ethnic people of color: Perceived parental influence, experience, and meaning-making
by Lao-Arthur, Tania E., Ph.D., New York University, 2011, 230; 3478314
Abstract (Summary)

The primary purpose of this study was to capture a more profound understanding of the term ethnicity by elucidating the process of ethnic identity development for the multi-ethnic person of color. Many studies over the last 20 to 30 years have examined ethnicity by isolating, and determining the effects of, various components of the construct. Very few studies have focused on personal experiences related to ethnic identity and its development as a locus for a deeper understanding of term ethnicity. This study focuses on individual experiences and understanding of the process of ethnic identity development - that is, how ethnic identity unfolds over time, as a product of social influences, and within social contexts. The clarification of this developmental process took place through an inquiry into the lived experiences of the participants with a focus on how they understand their ethnicity and ethnic identity as influenced by their parents or family and external social forces. These experiences, which include earliest memories to present day, were recounted through the participants' stories.

Three information gathering techniques—the construction of genograms, a modified version of the Life History Interview (McAdams, 1995), journal writing, and the collection of pertinent memorabilia—were employed to elicit the participants' stories. The views that provide the conceptual framework for this study are grounded in social learning theory and acculturation theory, and refer to dynamic models of ethnic and racial identity development. More specifically the understanding of identity as malleable and dynamic, of ethnic and racial “minorities” as historically marginalized peoples, and of the family as the primary socializing force for individuals, guided the co-construction and interpretation of stories shared by the participants in this study.

Recursive processes of interviewing, and transcribing and coding with a second reader led to the emergence of various themes from participants' interviews. The importance of education, the importance of family, and the purpose of religion emerged as themes for each participant. Several sub-themes—phenotype, body image, social status, maintaining cultural connection, and negotiating multiple identities—also emerged for each participant. These sub-themes were interpreted to be indicative of a unifying theme which brought to light how issues related to ethnicity, and to the related construct race, were operational in the daily lives of the participants. Counseling considerations and implications for future research are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Suzuki, Lisa
Commitee: Larson, Colleen, Mattis, Jacqueline
School: New York University
Department: Applied Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Developmental psychology, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Acculturation, Identity development, Life history, Multi-ethnic identity, Parental influence, People of color
Publication Number: 3478314
ISBN: 9781124957531
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