Qualitative and Narrative Assessment of Self-Concept and Identity: A Grounded Theory on Ethnic and Racial Labeling in America
Alvarez, Juan Manuel
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to research the construction of self and identity using qualitative and narrative methods, with a focus on racial/ethnic identity. The ultimate goal was to assess a diverse group of Americans through a multicultural framework that elicited multiple aspects of identity. Five research questions (RQ) addressed participants' definitions, descriptions, and stories about: (a) their self and personal identity; (b) their ethnic identity within society; (c) other ethnicities in society; (d) multicultural relationships among diverse individuals from various ethnic groups and/or races in society; and (e) how personal and ethnic identity, and ethnicity, relate to inter-ethnic group relations. Participants were 16 undergraduate students at Washington State University from various departments. The diverse sample consisted of four African Americans, four Asian Americans, four European Americans, and four Latino or Hispanic Americans. Two males and two females were sampled from each of the four groups. The participants completed the semi-structured Self and Culture Questionnaire (SCQ), which was developed for this study. The SCQ consists of a demographics questionnaire and a 40-question narrative identity/ethnic identity questionnaire. The data analysis involved a qualitative Grounded Theory approach using open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. The core category that emerged from this analysis revealed that the participants differentially used racial and nationality terms as labels of ethnicity. Conclusions of the study included the following: current racial categories, which are social not biological constructs, appear to be insufficient as markers of genetic identity; ethnicity among (U.S.) Americans appears to be unclearly defined; differential ethnic labeling may adversely imply that members of some ethnic groups are more "American" than others; and the inconsistent and interchangeable use of race and ethnicity is confusing and confounds these constructs. Implications for the assessment of race and ethnicity are discussed.