Racism, identity and belonging: How do these factors interact for young Black people in predominantly white settings?

Mngaza, Siya (2020) Racism, identity and belonging: How do these factors interact for young Black people in predominantly white settings? DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Background: Strong feelings of school belonging are closely associated with positive outcomes for children and young people, including academic achievement, engagement and motivation. Several perspectives conceptualise belonging as a transactional process, involving subjective evaluations, feelings of acceptance and evaluations of the immediate context. Within the UK, there is a lack of research that considers the experiences of belonging for minoritised young people. However, some studies indicate that the racial homogeneity of the school context plays a role within belonging ratings of ethnically minoritised children. This area of research is particularly pertinent in the case of Afro-Caribbean, or young ‘Black’ people, due to a range of educational disparities experienced within education.

Current Study: Taking an exploratory approach, the current study explores the stories of five young Black people and one parent with a focus upon the factors that interacted the construction of a sense of belonging within predominantly white secondary schools. Using a grounded theory approach, data was collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed through sequential levels of coding, diagramming and categorisation.

Findings: Six interacting conceptual categories were developed through the analysis of interview data. Findings indicated that several factors were pertinent within the construction of a sense of belonging for Black pupils. Experiences that confronted their identity as Black people included subtle and overt forms of racism. Reactions to these experiences included resistance, emotional reflection and self-advocacy. Young people constructed a view of their social positioning within the school by evaluating the cultural context of the school, evaluating the meaning attached to teacher interactions, and understanding how friendships promote feelings of acceptance. Young people discussed interactions that centred and highlighted their physical appearance as a Black person, as salient within their retelling of stories about school. Belonging within the grounded theory is conceptualised as a non-static, interactional process that is in part directed by experiences that highlight racial identity. Belonging needs were ‘transcended’ in response to experiences of racism and othering. Young people enlist a range of sophisticated strategies to achieve self-affirmation, ‘belonging to oneself’ and personal growth. The findings were ‘sensitised’ through the application of Critical Race Theory, intersectionality and ecological perspectives. Literature relating to the role of impact of wider societal racial tension, racial socialisation, the impact of racism on mental health and belonging as well as post-trauma growth are also used to further contextualise the grounded theory. Symbolic Interactionism is considered as a useful lens in understanding the potentially restorative role of dialogue in constructing a sense of belonging with individual meaning.

Implications for future research include the need to explore additional questions relating to the relationship between resilience, belonging and personal identity. Implications for educational psychology practice are indicated, including further investigation about our competencies in supporting increasingly racially complex situations across the educational spectrum. School policy and training suggestions are made, focusing on providing support that enables systemic and interactionist perspectives of identity related issues. Critique of the current study include the approach taken to theory generation and the inclusion of both African and Caribbean participants.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Lambert, Nathan
Keywords: Racism, Identity, Belonging, Minoritised young people, Young Black people
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 61383
Depositing User: Mngaza, Siyapatha
Date Deposited: 21 May 2021 09:59
Last Modified: 21 May 2021 10:00
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/61383

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