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White identity development in a sociology class: An inquiry into White students' understanding of racial identity, race, and racism
Race, one of the most salient qualities by which people determine their social interactions, is a dynamic social construction shaped by racism in which Whites benefit by increased access to social power. Racial identity is defined as one's conscious and unconscious affiliation with one's racial group membership. Theoretical models identify racial identity development to proceed according to three aspects (1) one's sense of self as a member of a racial group, (2) one's attitudes and beliefs about other racial groups, and (3) one's understanding of racism. This study uses these aspects as guides for three research questions, namely (1) "How do traditional-age White college students describe themselves in terms of their White identity?" (2) "How do traditional-age White college students demonstrate and/or describe their attitudes and beliefs about other racial groups?" and (3) "How do traditional-age White college students define and describe racism?" This study includes quantitative and qualitative methods. Data was elicited in two processes. Forty traditional-aged White college students completed a Personal Information sheet, the Conceptualization of Racism Test and the Experience Recall protocol. A subset of ten students participated in in-depth interviews. Twelve variables were identified for a correlation analysis. While there is not a correlation among the variables, patterns related to the two developmental models were identified. Seven theme clusters were identified and include: (1) Definitions of race, ethnicity and self-ascription by race and ethnicity, (2) Recognition of differential treatment based on own racial identity, (3) Characteristics of being White, (4) General beliefs about other racial groups, (5) Identification of external influence, degree of internal agency, stereotypes and feelings, (6) Anecdotes of racial interactions involved in racism, and (7) Perspectives on racism. A developmental analysis using cognitive conceptualization of racism skills and self-knowledge skills illustrates developmental differences in the ways in which the students negotiate each theme cluster. The developmental differences are presented in three composite portraits reflective of the developmental differences in the students' understanding of White identity. These portraits are used to provide answers to the research questions.
Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Social psychology|Curricula|Teaching
Gallagher, Cynthia Ann, "White identity development in a sociology class: An inquiry into White students' understanding of racial identity, race, and racism" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9709597.