Muslim Undergraduate Women: A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Lived- Experience of Identity Development.

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Title: Muslim Undergraduate Women: A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Lived- Experience of Identity Development.
Author: Cerbo, Toni
Advisors: Alyssa N. Bryant, Committee Member
Audrey J. Jaeger, Committee Member
Lance D. Fusarelli, Committee Member
Joy Gaston Gayles, Committee Chair
Abstract: Through the analysis of qualitative data, this exploratory phenomenological study investigated the lived college experiences of late adolescent Muslim women to gain an understanding of how they negotiate cross-cultural interactions and develop, understand, assert, and maintain personal and social identities. The research draws on data gathered from two semi-structured interviews with seven female Muslim undergraduates attending a public institution in the Southeastern United States. The interviews were supplemented by two identity maps (self-pictorial representations) and document analysis related to the campus community, social climate of the United States, and Muslim culture. Using symbolic interactionism and the multiple dimensions of identity model as a conceptual framework, this study provides rich descriptions of their identity negotiation, interpersonal interactions, and sense of belonging within a changing psychological, social and historical context. A first step towards understanding this student population, the findings confirm and add new dimensions to existing research on identity development by detailing how female Muslim students construct identity within different oppressed social statuses. Based on student perceptions, the findings of this phenomenological study suggest (1) exploration and commitment to personal beliefs, values, and goals are important elements of identity development, (2) one identity is inefficient for describing female Muslims as multiple aspects of their identity cannot be understood in isolation, and (3) students use a religious interpretative lens to make meaning of self, their interactions with others, and group membership. Results show more similarities among the participants than differences when it came to their reflections on the nature of social interactions and the multiple aspects of their identity, specifically ethnicity, gender and religion. From the students’ perspectives, the findings affirm the identity development and symbolic interactionism literature while partially contradicting the multiple dimensions of identity model. Based on the findings, the author recommends that higher education professionals pay attention to the complex and shifting identity negotiations of this population and consider holistic student development to intentionally foster awareness and sensitivity to others; safe, inclusive campus environments; and preparedness for engagement with a pluralistic society.
Date: 2010-04-28
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Higher Education Administration
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/6232


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