Studying Minority Adolescents: Conceptual, Methodological, and Theoretical Issues

Studying Minority Adolescents: Conceptual, Methodological, and Theoretical Issues

Studying Minority Adolescents: Conceptual, Methodological, and Theoretical Issues

Studying Minority Adolescents: Conceptual, Methodological, and Theoretical Issues

Synopsis

In the burgeoning research literature on adolescents, the relative paucity of work examining ethnic variations in developmental processes is a glaring gap, particularly because approximately one third of American young people now come from an ethnic minority background. A primary factor in this research imbalance has been the lack of training in methods and research instruments needed to properly study ethnically diverse populations. This book was developed in response to this need.

Its chief objective is to present recent theoretical, conceptual, and methodological advances in the study of ethnicity and development during adolescence. The chapters address fundamental and enduring issues concerning the incorporation of ethnicity into research designs. Topics such as demographics, "ethnicity-friendly" research paradigms, and practical challenges that arise throughout the research cycle are addressed by scholars who have "been there" and learned how to successfully study the effects of race and ethnicity on developmental processes and outcomes. Established scholars and newcomers to research, working both in academic and applied settings with adolescents as their focus, will find this book a valuable resource.

Excerpt

The relative absence of systematic research on normative development among ethnic minority youth is a little bit like the weather: Everyone complains about it, but no one ever does anything. Although ethnicity has been a focus of concern for several decades among anthropologists and, to a lesser degree, sociologists, leading journals in adolescent development continue to show a conspicuous paucity of research in this area. the little research that does include ethnic minority youth focuses disproportionately on problematic aspects of adolescence, such as delinquency, academic failure, and teen pregnancy. As a result of this bias, our understanding of normative adolescent development in diverse populations is exceedingly limited. Given the changed and changing demography of adolescence, this situation must change.

The shortage of current research dealing with the interplay between ethnicity and development in adolescence is no doubt due to many factors, but one in particular stands out as both fundamentally important and eminently remediable: Researchers who potentially might be interested in studying the interplay between ethnicity and development in adolescence have neither had the training nor research instruments needed to properly study ethnically diverse populations. If scholars of adolescence are to be prepared for the 21st century, however, new research approaches, suitable for exploring the multifaceted implications of the incorporation of ethnicity into research on adolescent development, will need to be developed.

To this end, the Society for Research on Adolescence, with financial assistance from the Foundation for Child Development, the William T. Grant Foundation and the University of Michigan's Rackham School of Graduate Studies, convened a study group of scholars to examine current thinking about ethnicity and adolescent development and to suggest new directions for future research. Members of the study group were Lawrence Aber, LaRue Allen, Oscar Barbarin, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Catherine Cooper, Ana Mari Cauce, Ann Doucette-Gates, Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, Nancy Guerra, Robert Jagers, James M. Jones, Vonnie McLoyd, Amado Padilla, Jean Phinney, Suzanne Randolph, Laurence Steinberg, and Leon Wilson.

This volume is composed of the papers that were written as a result of this study group's work. Most of the papers were written by members of the study . . .

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