The Development of Ethnic Identity During Adolescence
Delila Owens, Ph.D., LPC
February 12, 2012
This paper will summarize the assignment The Development of Ethnic Identity during Adolescence. The paper will focus on definitions and discuss the various theories that speak to ethnic Identity during development, and finally the one of the many models for testing identity ethnic development.
Erikson described adolescent identity exploration as a crisis of identity versus identity diffusion: "From among all possible imaginable relations, [the adolescent] must make a series of ever narrowing selections of personal, occupational sexual and ideological commitments" (Erikson, 1968). The construct, ethnic identity, can best be understood through an examination of its etymological origins. The term ethnic has Latin and Greek origins – ethnicus and ethnikas both meaning nation. It can and has been used historically to refer to people as heathens. Ethos, in Greek, means custom, disposition or trait. Ethnikas and ethos taken together therefore can mean a band of people (nation) living together who share and acknowledge common customs. The second part of the construct, identity, has Latin origins and is derived from the word identitas; the word is formed from idem meaning same.Thus, the term is used to express the notion of sameness, likeness, and oneness. More precisely, identity means “the sameness of a person or thing at all times in all circumstances; the condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else” (Simpson & Weiner, 1989, p. 620). There are many theories that substantiate the development of ethnic Identity during adolescence. Although Erikson's theory of identity development is widely cited, other theories provide important knowledge about identity and its development. The attachment theories emphasize the value of the trust and security that a...
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