Identity Maintenance and Loss: Concurrent Processes among the Fransaskois

By Gaudet, Sophie; Clément, Richard | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, April 2005 | Go to article overview

Identity Maintenance and Loss: Concurrent Processes among the Fransaskois


Gaudet, Sophie, Clément, Richard, Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


Abstract

Research has shown that, among minority group members, there is a tendency to adopt outgroup attributes at the loss of ingroup cultural elements. However, studies have also documented the occurrence of cultural revitalization and ethnic maintenance. While current theories of intergroup relations do delineate conditions under which either may occur, none have examined the processes responsible for their co-occurrence. This study is therefore meant to investigate if and by what mechanism the effect of cultural loss and maintenance may occur concomitantly. Two dimensions of acculturation (ethnic identity and adjustment), along with initial aspects of contact mediated by communication and social support processes, were examined as they occur among French Canadians living in a province of Western Canada. High school and junior high students (N = 151) attending French schools participated in the study. As predicted, the importance of contact, social support, and language confidence for shaping identity and adjustment was supported. While there were subtractive trends as a result of learning the second language, the additive benefit of identity maintenance and well-being was also apparent.

Résumé

La recherche a démontré que, chez les membres d'un groupe minoritaire, il existe une tendance à adopter les caractéristiques de l'exogroupe au prix de la perte des éléments culturels de l'endogroupe. Toutefois, dans d'autres études, on a observé la présence d'une revitalisation culturelle et du maintien des caractéristiques ethniques. Tandis que les théories actuelles des relations intergroupes délimitent les conditions sous lesquelles l'une et l'autre se produisent, aucune ne s'est penchée sur les processus responsables de leur co-occurrence. La présente étude a donc pour objectif d'examiner si l'effet de perte et de maintien de l'identité culturelle peut se produire en même temps et à identifier le mécanisme qui l'entraîne. Deux dimensions de l'acculturation (identité ethnique et ajustement), ainsi que les aspects initiaux du contact défini par la communication et les processus de soutien social, ont été examinés chez des Canadiens français vivant dans une province de l'Ouest. Des étudiants du secondaire et des étudiants du premier cycle (N = 151) qui fréquentent des écoles francophones ont participé à l'étude. Comme nous l'avions prédit, l'importance du contact, du soutien social et de l'aisance à utiliser la langue seconde dans le façonnement de l'identité et de l'ajustement d'une personne a été démontrée. Bien qu'on ait observé une tendance soustractive causée par l'apprentissage d'une langue seconde, les avantages additifs du maintien de l'identité et du bien-être étaient également apparents.

Acculturation is a process of cultural change resulting from contact between two or more ethnic groups (Berry, 1990, 1997). Research has shown that, among minority group members, there is often a tendency to adopt outgroup attributes at the expense of ingroup cultural elements and that further involvement in the outgroup culture often reduces participation in the original cultural group (Chun & Akutsu, 2003; Landry, Allard, & Théberge, 1991; Nguyen, Messe, & Stollack, 1999; Noels, Pon, & Clément, 1996; Phinney, Lochner, & Murphy, 1990). However, some studies have also documented the occurrence of cultural revitalization and ethnic maintenance in cases of extreme minority status (Constantinou & Harvey, 1985; Dasgupta, 1998; Dhruvarajan, 1993; Phinney, 2003; Tajfel & Turner, 1979; Verkuyten, 1996). While both phenomena have been studied, if and by what mechanism they occur concomitantly within the same group still remains to be understood. Thus, the goal of this study was to examine the validity of an explanatory mediational model applied to a small and dispersed minority population, the Francophone residents of Saskatchewan, also known as the Fransaskois.

Outcomes of Acculturation

In a study highlighting the acculturation patterns of Francophones living in Western Canada, Landry et al. …

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