Title page for ETD etd-10182005-102239

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Rebelo, Marcia Anne
Email rebelo@netactive.co.za
URN etd-10182005-102239
Document Title The influence of acculturation on the self-concept of black adolescents
Degree MA (Play Therapy)
Department Social Work
Advisor Name Title
Dr J M Yssel
  • identity foreclosure
  • ethnic identity
  • self-esteem
  • identity
  • culture
  • black adolescent
  • black
  • adolescence
  • self-concept
  • acculturation
Date 2004-12-10
Availability unrestricted
The goal of the research was to explore the influence of acculturation on the self-concept of black adolescents. Only since 1994 have black South African children become more exposed to the previously white only privileged culture, based on westernized norms and values. This has come about through the schooling system and alternate care.

The process of assimilating ideas of a new culture into one’s existing cultural framework is known as the process of acculturation. In South Africa this has happened in a relatively brief space of time.

Adolescence is also one of the most difficult developmental stages to negotiate successfully and the dramatic physical, emotional and psychological changes which occur during this time have a significant influence on the self-concept of the adolescent. Much of the developmental energy of adolescence is devoted to identity issues which is an integral part of the self-concept.

The researcher believed that it must be that much more difficult for the adolescent who is placed in a diverse cultural setting and is confronted with confusion about his ethnic identity, his present cultural milieu and the physical and psychological changes which challenge him in forming a new adult identity. Overseas studies and some local counseling centres have highlighted the negative impact of acculturation in terms of psychological and emotional adjustment problems in relation to acculturated youth.

The objectives of the study included making conclusions and recommendations regarding the influence of acculturation on black adolescents in terms of therapy interventions, guidelines for schools in terms of life-orientation programmes and guidelines for organizations involved in placement of children in trans-racial care. As there was also very little literature on the subject of acculturation within the South African context, another objective of the study was to compile a theoretical frame of reference regarding acculturation within the South African context.

Six adolescent black youth in trans-racial adoptive and foster care placements were identified as respondents. They were of mixed gender and between the ages of twelve and twenty.

The researcher used a qualitative research approach of an applied nature and a phenomenological strategy of enquiry. Non-probability purposive sampling was used to select six respondents for the study. A semi-structured interview, with an interview schedule as a guideline was used as well as gestalt play therapy techniques as means of information collection.

Various domains of the adolescent self-concept were explored on a physical, psychological, social level.

The research findings showed that black adolescent youth in trans-racial care who had some connection and knowledge about their cultural roots were more able to begin the process of ethnic identity achievement which led to the development of a positive self-concept. This in turn led to better psychological and emotional adjustment and healthy ways of coping with problems and life in general. In contrast those adolescents who had relinquished their own culture for the new white culture they were emerged in, led to the development of a negative self-concept, poor adjustment and negative ways of coping with problems.

For expediency, the male pronoun is used to refer to either sexes and the term family refers to foster family unless otherwise stated.

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