Finding a place to be: ethnic identity exploration of Asian Americans

Adolescence. 1999 Spring;34(133):121-38.


This paper examines the nature of ethnic identity development by analyzing published autobiographical accounts of 39 Asian Americans. Focusing on what previous research indicates is a four-stage ethnic identity formation process, this investigation of the last two stages--ethnic emergence and ethnic identity incorporation--revealed a pattern of exploration and decision-making that results in greater understanding of self-identity and greater self-acceptance as a member of an ethnic minority. The process revealed by the narrators began with a willingness to face previously unaddressed ethnic identity issues, leading to the search for membership in a new and more satisfying group. After a period of exploration, and finding that they were not fully comfortable with either the mainstream American or ethnic culture, the narrators discovered the ethnic minority American group--Asian Americans. The narrators described their movement through these stages to achieve an Asian American identity as positive and self-validating. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings for education and counseling.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ethnicity* / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept*
  • United States