Re-Examining Ethnic Identity and Acculturation: Addressing the Integration of Content, Process and Domain Specificity
The general consensus among many social scientists is that the major debates regarding the measurement of ethnic identity and acculturation have been concluded. The major weaknesses of early scales, such as measuring ethnic identity or acculturation in a one- dimensional manner, have been largely addressed (Berry, 1995; Phinney, 1990). However, given (1) the inconsistent and often contradictory research findings regarding the relationship of ethnic identity with a host of psychological outcomes, and (2) the surprising difficulty of determining the exact relationship between ethnic identity and acculturative status; it is likely that a new breed of ethnic identity and acculturation scales need to be developed based on theoretical understandings of both process, content and domain specificity.
Critical theories from the humanistic traditions, on the other hand, have conceptualized ethnic identity as a more dynamic, subjective, and agentic process whereby the individual constantly recreates their cultural sense of self, depending upon the social evaluation and current socio-historical forces—something typically ignored by cultural psychologists. In this regard, the humanistic literatures have conceived of ethnic identity and the forces of acculturation in a manner consistent with the goals, if not the reality, of measurement attempts only now emerging from the social sciences.
It is hoped that a broad-based, cross-disciplinary discussion of ethnic identity, acculturation, and their respective measurement can help develop the necessary ideas for the creation of such scales. Finally, a special focus regarding cultural conflict within acculturating individuals rather than between ethno-cultural groups will be made based on recent work in bicultural cognitive processes (Hong, Morris, Chiu & Benet-Martinez, 2000; Phinney, 1999).
Purpose & Goals:
- To compare and contrast major ethnic identity and acculturation scales and review research designed to evaluate them.
- To discuss the relationship between ethnic identity and acculturative status.
- To discuss general ways of improving ethnic identity and acculturation scales.
- To discuss the purposes of measuring ethnic identity and acculturation beyond simple classification of individuals or groups.
- To discuss the complications and special problems that arise with bi-cultural and bi-ethnic identity measurement.
- To examine the role of social vs. personal mythologies in self-fulfilling ethno-cultural identities.
- To examine the role of cultural myths and stereotypes in mass media on self-identities and how such issues may nor may not be addressed by quantitative-based measurement scales.