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Ethnic Identity Essay

1412 words - 6 pages

What is Ethnic identity formation?
Defining identity formation
Identity formation is a process that is continuously developing and changing. Erikson (1968) describes identity formation as a product of the interrelations between the individual and the context the individual is in. When a person develops an identity it means they are forming that connection between themselves and aspects of society. How identities are formed is an ever changing process due to drastic changes in culture and society. Currently in society people are given the choice and opportunity to be the authors of their own identities. They can explore, question and make sense of their identities through various ...view middle of the document...

(French, Seidman, Aleen &Aber, 2006)
Developing an ethnic identity
In order for an individual to have fully achieved identity formation they have to go through the exploration process. Some factors that can contribute to adolescents exploring more about their own ethnic groups are; changes in peer diversity and negative encounters with other ethnic groups. When students encounter these situations they begin to become more curious about their own ethnicity and so they start to explore and learn more about it. This exploration process in turn gives them a better sense of understanding and ultimately an affirmation of their ethnic identity. (French, Seidman, Aleen &Aber, 2006)
A study that examined over the course of three years the trajectory of ethnic identity development from early adolescences to middle adolescences noted that early adolescents (middle school age) were not capable of forming ethnic identities, because they have not gone through the exploration process. This claim demonstrates a limitation in this study because researchers used students from homogenous junior high schools but then used students from heterogeneous high schools. This sample in turn gave a negative result to the findings on ethnic exploration for the Junior High school students (early adolescents) because they were not faced with diversity and mixed with other ethnic groups like the high school students were. If the Junior High school students were to have been picked from a heterogeneous school, it could have significantly changed the results of this study and possibly have shown that middle school adolescents actually do acquire an ethnic identity at that age. (French et al., 2006)
How public and private regard affect ethnic identity formation
Private regard refers to how a person evaluates and views their own ethnic group. Public regard refers to a person’s perception of how others evaluate and view their ethnic group. Erikson indicated that identity development involves knowing what you mean to yourself (private regard) and knowing what you mean to others.( public regard) Having an identity, knowing your identity and having a sense of belonging are all part of the identity formation process. (Kaplan & Flum, 2012) Through a longitudinal study public and private regard were examined to show how ethnic pride and identity development vary between ethnic groups. Private regard in this study was measured by questions such as “ I feel good about people from my ethnic group” Public regard was measured by questions such as, “ A lot of people don’t expect my ethnic group to do well in life.” (Huges, Way & Rivas- Drake, 2011, p. 864-865) The findings from this study demonstrated that Chinese Americans had a lower level of private regard than African Americans and Latinos and this is due to the fact that Chinese Americans students are provided less support for the development of ethnic pride. They do not attend public events such as heritage parades and they do not see...

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