Identity development in context: An integrated approach in understanding aspects of ethnicity and gender

Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate identity from different perspectives and at different ages in Sweden. Specifically, in Study I, the aim was to explore what types of ethnicity-related experiences were prevalent and whether these types of experiences differed depending on immigrant status, self-identified ethnicity, or age group. Using a narrative approach, 95 participants (87% women, 66% immigrants, 57% emerging adults, 43% adolescents, Mage = 19.62) shared their ethnicity-related experiences. Through thematic analysis, we found that most of the stories were about feelings of not fitting in, regardless of age, ethnicity, or immigrant status. The aim of Study II was to investigate gender differences in identity status globally and across domains as well as to investigate potential differences in social comparison between identity statuses. The results indicated that most of the 124 young adults (50% women, Mage 33.29 years) had made identity-defining commitments, and gender differences in identity status were found in the occupational and parenthood domains. In addition, differences in social comparison orientation were only found in the parenthood domain, with those assigned to moratorium scoring higher in social comparison than did those assigned to foreclosure or diffusion. In sum, this thesis emphasizes the complexity of identity as well as the importance of integrating different identity theories and approaches in order to better understand the processes and content that constitute identity.

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