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Identity Development in a Cultural Context. Dr. Randal G. Tonks February 24 th , 2006. Overview. Erikson’s identity model Culture as a formative factor Acculturation and adjustment My research studies on identity and acculturation. Erikson’s Identity Model .

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Identity Development in a Cultural Context


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    1. Identity Development in a Cultural Context Dr. Randal G. Tonks February 24th, 2006

    2. Overview • Erikson’s identity model • Culture as a formative factor • Acculturation and adjustment • My research studies on identity and acculturation

    3. Erikson’s Identity Model • Identity is central to human psychological development • The basis of identity is in three principle processes • Soma: Biological process of the body and organ systems • Psyche: Psychic process of organizing individual experience or ego synthesis • Ethos (Polis): Communal process of cultural organization of the interdependence of persons

    4. Identity • Identity is a lifelong process involving the development of ego strengths or virtues • Identity is psychosocial process of mutuality, inter-living, or “cogwheeling.” • Rituals of psychosocial (mutual) activity shape identity for all persons involved. • Identity involves a widening radius of social relations: parents, family, community, culture, humankind.

    5. Ages and stages

    6. Identity Development • While identity formation occurs throughout the lifecycle, it comes into special focus in adolescence, where ideological identity is formed. • Erikson describes it as: “A sense of identity means being at one with oneself as one grows and develops; and it means, at the same time, a sense of affinity with a community's sense of being at one with its future as well as its history--or mythology.” (1974, pp. 27-28, italics added)

    7. Culture as a formative factor • Normative behaviour including “self” • Ways of thinking and feeling emotions • Ethics and values • Expected relationships with others • Education and enculturation

    8. Identity in Canada • Youth often face many ideological alternatives as there are so many cultural, political, religious, and philosophical choices. • Acculturation occurs as we each learn and adapt to other cultures or ways of living beyond those found in our home, family and heritage.

    9. Berry’s Acculturation Modeltradition maintenance & other group contact Yes to maintenanceYes to contact Integration Yes to maintenanceNo to Contact Separation No to maintenanceYes to contact Assimilation No to maintenanceNo to contact Deculturation Marginalization

    10. Adaptation & Stress • Positive adaptation is least likely to be found among those showing Marginalization (Berry, 1997). • Acculturative Stress has been characterized as: “one form of stress that is due to challenges in the process of acculturation...”

    11. Acculturative Stress • Berry et al. identify it as: “lowered mental health status (especially anxiety, depression), feelings of marginality and alienation, heightened psychosomatic symptom level, and identity confusion.” (1992, p. 284) • Stress is higher among: involuntary migrants, nomadic peoples, women, more aged, middle phases of acculturation.

    12. My Research Programme • Built upon Erikson’s bio-psycho-social model • Integrating the empirical paradigm of John Berry along with that of James Marcia • Began with examination of variables – convergent construct validation of both sets of variables

    13. Marcia’s Ego-identity Modelsearch & commitment of identity Yes to search Yes to Commitment Achievement Yes to search No to commitment Moratorium No to Search Yes to Commitment Foreclosure No to search No to commitment Diffusion

    14. Methodological Issues • Challenges in distinguishing some statuses using quantitative methods • Challenges in the interpretation of acculturative items both quantitatively and conceptually • E.g. Assimilation…Most of my friends are of my ethnic group because I feel very comfortable around them, but I don't feel as comfortable around Canadians from other cultural groups • Retreat to Qualitative case studies

    15. Qualitative Methods • With a qualitative approach the interest is in providing subjective meaning behind the experiences. • Drawing from the tradition of hermeneutics there is interest in understanding the “lived experiences” of another person. • Here one attempts to provide a biography or narrative of life events that conveys the subjective experiences as well as putting them into a broader context of the common experiences of others. • Erikson’s psychohistory making methods show the personal psychological meaning along with the collective social or cultural meaning of events and experiences

    16. Narratives of identityUnderstanding the experiences of: • Canadian youth growing up in a multicultural context • Immigrant Canadian youth as they adjust to life in a new culture • International students studying in Canada • Canadian students studying abroad

    17. Review & Summary • Identity is seen as bio-psycho-social process that evolves across the lifespan. • Cultural processes are central to normative identity development and changes due to acculturation. • We continue to explore both quantitative and qualitative studies of identity development, acculturation, stress and adjustment.