Journal of Undergraduate Research


Hmong identity formation, transferring cultural knowledge between generations


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




While many theorists in Psychology have proposed various universalistic models for development, specifically ethnic identity development, and while these theories clearly have much to offer in the way scholarship on the topic of identity development, they are severely limited in their scope for the same reason that they are seemingly easy to grasp—they are problematically over-simplified. Human beings seldom fit nicely into stage theories or models, particularly when universally applied to across contexts. Especially when concerned with bi-cultural contexts and identity development, it is not plausible to attempt to reduce these complex human experiences to any one particular paradigm. In other words, these theories, which have largely been made in the West and for the West, do not easily translate to other cultural contexts. Neither culture nor development is so simple and so universal that it can be easily explained by any one-size-fits-all theory. Though I am not suggesting that stage theories be thrown out altogether since they can provide vital insights into our understanding of human behavior, I am calling for a less stratified and more dynamic way of viewing ethnic identity development as it is a phenomenon, which requires a more qualitative approach in addition to the research which has already been done to further our knowledge on this particular subject.

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