An exploration of the identity formation of adolescents growing up in bicultural households in South Africa

Brassell, Jamie Miriam (2020-03)

Thesis (MEdPsych)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : This study explored the identity formation process of adolescents being raised in bicultural households in the South African context. A bicultural household can be defined as a family in which one parent belongs to a specific cultural group, while the other parent belongs to another. In this way, the children grow up with exposure to two sets of cultural norms, practices, values and characteristics. It is believed that the culture with which an individual identifies plays an important role in how the individual views him- or herself and the world (Erikson, 1974). This study aimed to explore how being raised in two cultures can affect the adolescent’s personal identity development. Various theoretical perspectives were applied to understand the process of identity formation in adolescence. Both Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development and James Marcia’s identity status theory describe adolescence as a challenging period in which individuals explore various identity domains to make decisions regarding who they are. Sameroff’s transactional model of development emphasises the importance of parent-child interactions, which is viewed as a reciprocal relationship in which parent and child shape each other during the identity development process. According to social constructionism, individuals create and attach their own meaning to these interactions and thus develop views of themselves and others. As this study aimed to explore the meaning attached to the experiences of the participants, a qualitative, interpretivist approach was used. The participants were selected by means of purposive sampling and asked to volunteer if they wished to participate. Data were collected through a process of individual interviews, questionnaires, photo elicitation, and field notes. The data were then analysed through a narrative approach, to explore the meaning in the participants’ personal stories. The research findings indicate that bicultural adolescents experience various challenges during their identity-formation years; however, there are also some advantages. It was also found that various factors contribute to participants’ stronger identification with a particular cultural group. The participants shared their experiences of how being raised with two sets of cultural norms had influenced the development of their characteristics and values. Furthermore, the findings indicate the extent to which bicultural adolescents feel the need to adapt their behaviour in the presence of family members from each culture.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Hierdie studie het die identiteitvormingsproses van adolessente wat in bikulturele huishoudings in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks grootgemaak word, ondersoek. ʼn Bikulturele huishouding kan gedefinieer word as ʼn gesin waarin een ouer aan ʼn bepaalde kulturele groep behoort en die ander ouer aan ʼn ander. Op hierdie manier groei die kinders met twee stelle kulturele norms praktyke, waardes en karaktereienskappe op. Daar word geglo dat die kultuur waarmee ʼn individu identifiseer ʼn belangrike rol speel in hoe die individu hom- of haarself en die wêreld beskou (Erikson, 1974). Hierdie studie het ten doel gehad om te verken hoe grootword in twee kulture die adolessent se persoonlike identiteitsontwikkeling kan affekteer. Verskeie teoretiese perspektiewe is toegepas om die proses van identiteitsvorming in adolessensie te verstaan. Beide Erik Erikson se stadiums van psigososiale ontwikkeling en James Marcia se identiteitstatus-teorie beskryf adolessensie as ʼn uitdagende tydperk waarin individue verskeie identiteitsdomeine verken om besluite te neem oor wie hulle is. Sameroff se transaksionele model van ontwikkeling beklemtoon die belangrikheid van ouer-kind-interaksies, wat beskou word as ʼn wederkerige verhouding waarin ouer en kind mekaar gedurende die identiteitvormingsproses vorm. Volgens sosiale konstruksionisme skep individue hierdie interaksies, heg eie betekenis daaraan en ontwikkel sodoende sienings van hulself en ander. Omdat hierdie studie beoog het om die betekenis wat aan die ervarings van die deelnemers geheg is, te ondersoek, is ʼn kwalitatiewe, verklarende benadering gebruik. Die deelnemers is deur middel van doelbewuste steekproeftrekking geselekteer en versoek om vrywillig deel te neem indien hulle wou. Data is deur ʼn proses van individuele onderhoude, vraelyste, foto-elisitasie en veldaantekening versamel. Die data is toe ontleed deur ʼn narratiewe benadering om die betekenis in die deelnemers se stories te ondersoek. Die navorsingsbevindings dui daarop dat bikulturele adolessente gedurende hulle identiteitvormingsjare verskeie uitdagings ervaar; daar is egter ook ʼn paar voordele. Dit is ook bevind dat verskeie faktore bydra tot deelnemers se sterker identifisering met ʼn bepaalde kulturele groep. Die deelnemers het ook hulle ervarings van hoe grootword met twee stelle kulturele norms die ontwikkeling van hulle karaktertrekke en waardes beïnvloed het. Verder dui die bevindings op die mate waartoe bikulturele adolessente die behoefte voel om hulle gedrag in die teenwoordigheid van gesinslede van elke kultuur aan te pas.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107986
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