Exploring the identity of a group of Assyrian/Syriac young adolescents in Sweden : A mixed-methods study within the discipline of Psychology of Religion and the research field of Identity Development
Abstract: The overall aim of this study was to explore the identity of a group of Assyrian/Syriac young adolescents (N=74; age: 9-15 yrs.) at two schools in Södertälje, Sweden. Being a sequential mixed-methods study, a quantitative phase preceded a qualitative phase. The following research questions guided the study: In what ways do a group of Assyrian/Syriac young adolescents in Sweden develop their identity? The current study is deductive, applying the theory of identity development and the bio-ecological model. The quantitative phase consisted of questionnaires that were distributed to informants where the Utrecht-Management of Identity Commitments (U-MICS) (the domains of education, best friends and religious faith) and items that inquired about identifications, attitudes toward languages, teachers, and classmates. The qualitative phased used semi-structured interviews with a focus on the experiences of the informants regarding their schools, religion and languages that were used in particular situations. The informants provided scores in all three domains of the U-MICS that indicated strong commitments and in-depth exploration and weak reconsideration of commitments. Teachers at the schools had the potential to affect the quality of education in a positive or negative way. This could result in an influence on the commitments and reconsideration of commitments in the education domain where, depending on the quality of education, the processes could consequently either be strengthened or weakened. Religion was ascribed an importance by the informants and their families. The formation cycle of identity in the religious faith domain was not as strong as the maintenance cycle among the informants. I suggested this as there were several consequences related to the process of reconsidering one’s current commitments. These consequences meant that the informants risked differentiating themselves from the family. The informant navigated several social identities by assigning and being assigned similarities and differences to other groups they interacted with. Social identity as an Assyrian/Syriac is, first and foremost, tied to belonging to a family, and secondly to the Assyrian/Syriac group. The connection between family and the Assyrian/Syriac group runs through religion and language.
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