Theses Doctoral

“Roots and Wings”: A Grounded Theory Study on the Racial/Ethnic Identity and Activist Identity Development Experiences of Asian American Activists

Chang, Jennifer

Despite Asian Americans’ noteworthy participation in activist movements over the decades, there is little known about the psychological experiences of Asian American activists let alone their activist identity development. Given the limited research about the lived experiences of Asian American activists, a qualitative study was conducted to explore the relationship between Asian American activists’ racial/ethnic identity development and activist identity development. Nineteen individuals, ages 23 to 46, with diverse genders and Asian ethnic backgrounds, completed demographic surveys and semi-structured interviews.

Data analyses yielded a multi-part theoretical model for Asian Americans’ Negotiating Activist Commitment which illustrates how multiple dimensions of racial and cultural experiences affect how Asian American activists engage in their activist work, and vice versa. Results showed that individuals’ varied experiences with traditional Asian cultural values and the model minority myth influence the evolution of their racial, cultural, and activist identity development, ultimately shaping their level of commitment to an activist identity and activist-related activities. Study findings not only help to validate pre-existing literature about the racial and cultural experiences of Asian Americans but also offer more nuanced understanding of Asian American identity development as it intersects with activist identity.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Huang, Cindy J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 4, 2022