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Ethnic and Racial Identity. Most of the different theories that offer psychological explanations for ethnic and racial identity use the writings of Erik Erikson and James Marcia on ego development as their point origin, warranting an understanding of their theoretical formulations.

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Ethnic and Racial Identity


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  1. Ethnic and Racial Identity • Most of the different theories that offer psychological explanations for ethnic and racial identity use the writings of Erik Erikson and James Marcia on ego development as their point origin, warranting an understanding of their theoretical formulations.

  2. Erikson and Ego Psychology • Erikson was greatly influenced by Freud and generally stayed closer to Freud's theory

  3. Some distinctions between Erikson and classical psychoanalysis • determinism. Erikson believes we evaluate what we have done in the past and can use these experiences to continue to grow • conflict. Erikson believed that social and interpersonal forces and the culture at large were equally as important in shaping our personality. • the unconscious: Erikson also believes in conscious awareness and decision making processes.

  4. Erikson’s theory is heavily influenced by Ego Psychologists • place less importance on the Id and more on the ego • Ego psychology emphasized the existence of the ego prior to birth • the ego has other functions rather than defense mechanisms • One main function of the ego is to maintain our sense of identity.

  5. Erikson suggests that our identity is made up of four parts: • individuality or a sense of uniqueness; • synthesis, or the coming together of all the parts of our "selves"; • continuity, or the idea that you are the same person today that you were yesterday. This also includes the function of maintaining our self-image consistent. • social acceptance, this basically relates to being part of and similar to others of the group we belong to or identify with. It also includes being accepted and valued by the group members.

  6. One of Erikson's most important concept is the epigenetic principle. • The development of our brain and other physical organs occurs according to a predetermined genetic blue print. • Erikson suggests that psychosexual development proceeds in a similar manner and advances according to the epigenetic principle. • Development is a result of the interaction of biological, environmental, and psychological factors

  7. Erikson conceptualized personality development as having eight psychosocial stages • Each stage develops from and builds upon the previous stage so that our progress is in part determined by our success, or lack of success, in all the previous stages. • Every stage includes a specific problem or crisis that we must resolve in order to move on.

  8. Crisis • The term "crisis" is used in the sense of a critical turning point that can either lead to progress or stagnation rather than an upcoming calamity. • The crisis involves a conflict between two opposing elements. • The best resolution involves a balance (although not necessarily an equal balance) between the two.

  9. Each stage has a certain optimal time as well • so we generally cannot speed things up or slow things down. However, the outcomes of each stage are not necessarily permanent. • For example, the outcomes of a later crisis may counteract either previous successes or failures. • If a crisis is favorably resolved, we gain a certain virtue or ego strength which will help us through the rest of the stages of our lives. • On the other hand, if we don't do so well, we may develop maladaptations and malignancies, as well as endanger all our future development.

  10. A malignancy is the worse of the two, and involves too little of the positive and too much of the negative aspect of the task such as a person who can't trust others. • A maladaptation is not quite as bad and involves too much of the positive and too little of the negative, such as a person who trusts too much.

  11. Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages

  12. Infancy: first year (similar to oral stage) • Ego Crisis: Trust vs. Mistrust. • Major problem is dependency. Is the adult to be trusted? • Significant Task: Mutual affirmation of mother and child - a big emphasis on visual contact. • Trust gives capacity for faith. • Basic Strength: Hope. A basic confidence in the future.

  13. Ritualization for Infancy: Numinous. • Ritualizations are recurring patterns of behavior characteristic of a particular society (kissing, hugging, shaking hands, etc.). • Numinous means "profound emotional experience". • The first ritualization is the greeting of the mother - the touch, smile, and eye-to-eye contact which assures "separateness transcended, yet distinctiveness confirmed".

  14. Ritualism for Infancy: Idolism (idolatry). • Ritualisms are exaggerated, rigid, inappropriate ritualizations. • Idolism is a distortion of the numinous reverence into adulation which gives an illusory image of perfection.

  15. Maldevelopment for Infancy: Withdrawal. • Maldevelopment is a basic weaknesses resulting from poor resolution of the ego crisis. • Withdrawal is "detaching" from others, similar to the problems of schizophrenia.

  16. Significant Relations for Infancy: Maternal parent

  17. Early Childhood: 2 to 3. Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt • Significant Task: Differentiate right and wrong & to establish psychosocial independence. • Primitive independence comes by saying "No". • Strength: Will, courage - the ability to exercise both freedom of choice and self-restraint.

  18. Ritualization: Judicious - forms basis of legal system. • Ritualism: Legalism - being more concerned with the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. • Maldevelopment: Compulsion • Significant Relations: Parents

  19. Play Age: 3 to 5: Initiative vs. Guilt • Significant Task: Role experimentation • Strength: to identify with proper role models

  20. Ritualization: Authenticity - assume culturally accepted roles. • Ritualism: Impersonation - trying to be something that you are not. • Maldevelopment: Inhibition • Significant Relations: Basic family

  21. School Age: 6 to 11: Industry vs. Inferiority • Significant Task: Skill learning • Strength: Competence (craftsmanship). At this age, children know who is good at everything.

  22. Ritualization: Formality. There are appropriate ways of doing things above being simply right or wrong. • Ritualism: Formalism (perfectionism) • Maldevelopment: Inertia • Significant Relations: School, neighborhood

  23. Adolescence: 12 to 18: Identity vs. Role confusion. • In the search for identity, many adolescents go into a period of withdrawing from responsibilities which Erikson called a "moratorium" • Significant Task: Establish philosophy of life. Adolescents think in terms of ideals. Problem is that they don't have much experience. • Strength: Fidelity & devotion

  24. Ritualization: Ideology. Adolescents tend to substitute ideals for experience. Ideals are different from reality because they are conflict free. • Ritualism: Totalism. Extremely rigid, unbinding set of ideal - cults, or merely totally dropping out. • Maldevelopment: Repudiation - by indifference or defiance. • Significant Relations: Peer groups

  25. Young Adulthood: 18 to 35: Intimacy vs. Isolation • Significant Task: Establish mutually satisfying relationships - primarily marriage & friends. • Strength: Love and Affiliation

  26. Ritualization: Affiliation • Ritualism: elitism - status symbols • Maldevelopment: Exclusivity - world begins to shrink • Significant Relations: Marital partner, friends.

  27. James Marcia • Following Erik Erikson, Marcia posits that adolescence and young adulthood is a time of "identity formation".

  28. Definition of Identity Josselson (1996) • "Identity is what integrates our own diversity, gives meaning to the disparate parts of ourselves, and relates them to one another. Identity is how we interpret our own existence and understand who we are in our world" (p. 30). • For the emerging adult, the task is to find a personally "owned" identity in a variety of areas. This involves distancing oneself from others such as parents and significant adult role models so that the identity is critically adopted and unique to the person.

  29. Marcia’s Typology of Identity • Using the concepts of "crisis" and "commitment", Marcia creates a four fold typology depending on whether or not the person has • made a commitment to an identity in the particular area and • whether or not this commitment has come because of some sort of "crisis".

  30. Marcia's Identity Statuses Related to Crisis and Commitment No commitment Commitment No crisis Identity Identity diffusion foreclosure Crisis Identity Identity moratorium achievement

  31. Identity Diffusion • Persons who are diffuse do not have strong commitments and do not appear to have engaged in any significant exploration of alternatives. • They do not "own" any beliefs and a particular area.

  32. Identity Foreclosure • The foreclosed student is one who has uncritically adopted their identity from either parents or other significant authority figures. • They have not considered alternatives and are likely to speak of themselves as one with the parent (e.g., "We are Methodists).

  33. Identity Moratorium • One who is in moratorium is actively seeking alternatives and considering what the merits of various commitments might be. • Their identity in this area is suspended (e.g., a moratorium has been declared) until they can figure out to what they will commit themselves.

  34. Identity Achievement • The person who has come to adopt a particular commitment after active consideration of alternatives is said to have achieved an identity. • To have a achieved identity in the area of religion means that one knows what other viewpoints might involve and can offer reasons for adopting one view over another. • One can see the advantages and disadvantages of competing positions and is able to summarize the factors weighing on the side of what they are personally committed to.

  35. Ethnic Identity (Jean Phinney) • the study of ethnic identity involves an emphasis on how group members themselves understand and interpret their own ethnicity. • Group members differ in the degree to which they have joined the American mainstream or remained in ethnic enclaves. • In addition, increasing numbers of individuals from mixed ethnic backgrounds cannot be assigned to a single group and thus blur the boundaries of ethnic groups

  36. Within these groups, terminology varies considerably, with some writers, particularly those studying African Americans, using the term racial identity rather than ethnic identity (Cross, 1991; Helms, 1990). • Although both ethnicity and race can form the basis of group identity, ethnic and racial identity have been studied within different research traditions, encompassing different theoretical and methodological approaches

  37. ETHNIC IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (Phinney, 1990). • Ethnic identity has been conceptualized as a complex construct including a commitment and sense of belonging to one's ethnic group, positive evaluation of the group, interest in and knowledge about the group, and involvement in activities and traditions of the group

  38. However, both conceptual and empirical writings acknowledge that ethnic identity is a dynamic construct that changes over time and context and varies across individuals. • Developmental approaches focus on the process by which an ethnic identity is formed, typically during adolescence and young adulthood.

  39. for the domain of ethnicity, models of ethnic, racial, or minority identity development (Atkinson, Morten & Sue, 1993; Cross, 1991; Phinney, 1989) have all emphasized the importance for minority group members of examining and questioning preexisting attitudes and assumptions about ethnicity, as a necessary step toward identity achievement.

  40. There is evidence that individuals progress with age to higher levels, but throughout life they may reexamine aspects of their ethnicity and return to earlier stages . • Development of ethnic identity is clearly influenced by many experiences, at the family, community, and societal level, but specific factors that bring about transitions have not been documented empirically.

  41. The initial stage is described as a period when ethnicity is not salient and has been given little conscious thought. • The individual, typically a child or young adolescent, accepts the values and attitudes present in his or her environment. • When the family and community present a strong positive image of the group for the minority child, the child is likely to have a positive identification with the group, even though it has not been consciously examined and hence may be vague and inarticulate. • However, children may also internalize negative images and stereotypes from the wider society, including those from mainstream institutions and the media.

  42. There has been little research specifically associating ethnic identity stages with attitudes toward other groups. • Helms (1990) and others (Atkinson et al.,1993; Cross,1991) argue that minority group members at the initial stage are likely to show a preference for the White majority culture and, in turn, may be deprecating or rejecting of their own culture. • However, it is not clear how widespread this attitude is, for not all minority youths experience White preference

  43. The second stage is seen as a period of search or immersion • individuals become deeply interested in knowing more about their group. • Initiation of the exploration process may be stimulated in part by the developmental issues that influence ego identity more generally • However, experience probably plays a more important role, as adolescents move into a larger world, encounter more people from backgrounds different from their own, and are increasingly exposed to discrimination.

  44. As minority group members explore the history of their group within the larger society, they become increasingly aware of racism and discrimination. • This knowledge is often accompanied by feelings of anger toward the dominant group for past and present wrongs.

  45. Final Stage • At the final stage, minority individuals develop a secure, confident sense of themselves as members of their group. • They feel secure in their own ethnicity and are assumed to hold a positive but realistic view of their own group. • Although they are comfortable with their group membership, ethnicity may or may not be salient to them; other aspects of their lives may become more important.

  46. Racial Identity Models • The models of minority ethnic identity and White identity are quite different because of the underlying fact of power differential and the history of relations between Whites and non-Whites.

  47. Cross’s Model of Black Identity Development: • Preencounter stage—I devalue my blackness and value White culture, I want to assimilate • Encounter stage—caused by crisis related to above thinking/perception, cognitive dissonance—a stage of confusion over norms and values. • Immersion-emersion—I withdraw from the dominant (White) culture and immerse myself in Black culture • Internalization—a new identity emerges—I appreciate the good in both cultures, I’m more flexible and tolerant, more bicultural/multicultural

  48. Janet Helms’ Model of White Racial Identity Development • Contact: simple knowledge that there are black people • Disintegration: awareness of the differences in experiences for black and white people. • Reintegration: acknowledging that one has a white identity. It becomes important at this stage to define the importance of this identity. • Pseudo-Independent: acknowledging the harm of white racism and one’s role in perpetuating it • Emersion/Immersion: efforts are made to re-define being white to change the white culture

  49. The final stage is called Autonomy • this stage reflects no longer using group membership to judge others and seeks an opportunity to learn more from other perspectives as a way of enhancing one’s own personal development. • Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech reflects this perspective.

  50. Acculturation Models • As stated before, • Acculturation refers to any cultural adaptation when one culture comes into contact with another • Assimilation is the adoption of one culture, which is usually dominant, at the expense of eliminating another culture