Sites of Belonging: Acculturation, Discrimination, and Ethnic Identity Among Children of Immigrants
DISCOVERING SUCCESSFUL PATHWAYS IN CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT: MIXED METHODS IN THE STUDY OF CHILDHOOD AND FAMILY LIFE, pp. 111-164, Thomas S. Weiner, ed., University of Chicago Press, 2005
47 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2011
Date Written: 2005
This paper presents detailed findings on ethnic self-identity and the factors that shape it based on structured longitudinal surveys with a large representative sample of over 5,000 adolescent children of immigrants (1.5 and second generations), from scores of different national origins, coming of age on both coasts of the United States. Four mutually exclusive types of ethnic self-identities emerged: (1) a foreign national identity; (2) a hyphenated-American identity; (3) a plain American identity; and (4) a pan-ethnic minority group identity (e.g., Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Black, Asian). The paths to those different forms of ethnic self-definition are shaped by a variety of social and psychological forces. The results show the complex, conflictual, often incongruous and unexpected ways in which race and class, discrimination and acculturation, family relationships and personal dreams can complicate their sense of who they are. They suggest that identities are neither fixed nor irreversible, but always a function of relational processes, whose meaning is embedded in concrete social and historical contexts. Ethnic self-identities emerge from the interplay of racial and ethnic labels and categories imposed by the external society and the original identifications and ancestral attachments asserted by the newcomers. Such considerations underscore the need for mixed research methods to get at dimensions of varying subjectivity and situationality, and to facilitate a more thoroughly contextualized study of ethnic identity and social belonging.
Keywords: Ethnic identity, panethnic identity, generation, social class, acculturation, discrimination, immigration, immigrant families, familism, family cohesion and conflict, Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS)
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