Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Justine Dandy

Second Advisor

Dr Dierdre Drake

Abstract

Developing a positive ethnic identity has often been linked to the psychological well-being of immigrants living in culturally diverse societies. Ethnic identity development theories have primarily concentrated on identity development during adolescence. As a result there are significant gaps in the literature and little is known about ethnic identity during adulthood. However, significant life transitions during adulthood, such as becoming a parent, may be influential in the development of ethnic identity. Intergenerational conflict and an increased desire to be ethnically oriented may relate to the experience of becoming a parent and influence ethnic identity. A means to achieving generativity has also often been discussed in relation to becoming a parent. Future research addressing ethnic identity during adulthood is needed to gain a greater knowledge and appreciation of the influence of significant life events on ethnic identity. Future research will inform ethnic identity development theory and have implications for support services for immigrants living in culturally diverse societies. Developing a positive ethnic identity has often been linked to the psychological wellbeing of immigrants living in culturally diverse societies. However, ethnic identity development theories have primarily concentrated on identity development during adolescence and have neglected the role of significant life-events that may influence identity during adulthood, such as becoming a parent. The present study involved an exploration of the impact of becoming a parent on the ethnic identities of adult, first generation immigrants living in Perth, Western Australia. The project took a phenomenological approach for which the subjective experiences of migrant women were of primary importance. Qualitative data, from a sample of seven women, was obtained, using in-depth, individual interviews. Thematic content analysis revealed common themes in the women's experiences. The results of the study illustrated that the transition to motherhood may have significant bearing on ethnic identity. However, an interpretation of the results may also suggest a reciprocal relationship between ethnic identity and the transition to parenthood. Whilst the results of the present study may not be generalised beyond the sample, they may still inform ethnic identity theory and be speculated upon with respect to future research and support services for immigrant mothers living in culturally diverse settings.

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