Identity Choices in Immigrant Adolescent Females

By Goodenow, Carol; Espin, Oliva M. | Adolescence, Spring 1993 | Go to article overview

Identity Choices in Immigrant Adolescent Females


Goodenow, Carol, Espin, Oliva M., Adolescence


Ego identity, according to Erikson's (1968) theory of psychosocial development, is the "more or less actually attained but forever to be revised sense of the self within social reality", and the development of a sense of identity is the key developmental task or "crisis" of adolescence. Although it is clear that "becoming oneself" is a complex issue for all adolescents, it is obviously more problematic for some groups than for others. For ethnic and racial minorities, for outsiders of all sorts, and in some ways for girls and women, the process of identity formation may be especially complicated and difficult. This paper explores identity formation in a group for which this developmental task may pose particular difficulties--immigrant adolescent females. The special issues and dilemmas faced by this population are presented, and results from interviews with several adolescents, all recent immigrants from Latin America, are discussed.

IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT

Although the identity process neither begins nor ends with adolescence (Marcia, 1980), for nearly everyone adolescence is the time of life during which concerns about the self are most salient. It is during this period that dilemmas about sexuality, independence, and the future take on new meaning and seriousness. It is also during this period that the young person makes choices and at least tentative commitments, and comes to realizations that form some psychological sense of inner core--an identity that is in some ways distinct from that of parents, background, and ascribed roles but in other ways must include them. It is also one which involves both distinctly individual preferences and attachments to larger social groups (Goodenow, 1992). A successful resolution of the identity formation period results in a coherent identity which includes those aspects of the self subjectively felt to be important, central, and valued. On the other hand, the identity must also be one which makes sense or in some way fits into the larger society. Possible unsuccessful outcomes include the development of a "negative identity," based primarily on opposition to others' wishes (Erikson, 1968); a foreclosed identity, based on rigid and unexamined adherence to a particular way of life (Marcia, 1980); or identity diffusion, which is the inability to form a clear identity at all (Erikson, 1950).

For immigrant adolescent females, several different influences on the identity development process need to be considered. First, there are the problems, issues, and double binds faced by virtue of holding the status of immigrant; these include the issues involved in being a newcomer and, in many cases, those concerned with being a member of an ethnic minority group. Second, there are the problems, issues, and double binds that are tied to the female sex role in both American and the original culture. Third, there is the interaction between the first two: in real life, ethnic or cultural identity and gender are not separable, but intersect and influence each other.

Immigration and Adolescent Identity

Generally, the special problems of identity formation faced by an adolescent immigrant in the United States involve carrying out developmental tasks in the context of a new culture and in the absence of the home culture's "average expectable environment" (Hartmann, 1964; Ticho, 1971). The social reality that has formed the backdrop of childhood has disappeared and another taken its place. While most adolescents try out aspects of identity with reference to others whose verbal and nonverbal language they understand, this is not true of most immigrants. Rodriguez, in Hunger of Memory (1982), and Hoffman, in Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language (1989), have written evocative and poignant autobiographical accounts of their experience of having to relinquish the public use of a "mother tongue" and endure the difficulty, bewilderment, and alienation entailed in the struggle to understand and be understood in a new language--a struggle that often left them mute. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Identity Choices in Immigrant Adolescent Females
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.