Friday, March 12, 2010

Masculine Heart - Thoughts Toward a Developmental Model of Masculine Identity

Over at my other blog, The Masculine Heart, I have posted the first two parts (of three) in my exploration of "Thoughts Toward a Developmental Model of Masculine Identity."

In Part One, I look at the history of identity development models, beginning with William E. Cross, Jr.'s Nigrescence Model, and then I also take a look at Rita Hardiman's White Racial Identity Development Model. I had originally planned to build on Hardiman's model, as well as a model presented by Janet Helms, but subsequent research redirected my interests.

In Part Two, which I posted yesterday, I explore a few masculinity models that I discovered after my earlier research. I look at work Michael J. Diamond and Jay Wade (the first a Freudian model which offers little to my perspective, and the second a more useful model of social reference group influence, which does offer some value). From there I moved into a brief look at David A. Scott and Tracy L. Robinson's "White Male Identity Development: The Key Model," which is useful, as well, but focused only a white males, not all males.

Finally, I take an in-depth look at the "Social Identity Development Theory" proposed by Rita Hardiman and Bailey W. Jackson, and which is based in part on Hardiman's previous racial development model. This offers a more comprehensive look at identity because it includes both the dominant culture (the agents) who define what is "good," and the minority cultures (the targets) who are defined as "less than" by the dominant culture. There is also an active and passive element to two of the stages that make them more comprehensive.

In Part Three (yet to come), I will propose my own model based on the most useful elements from each of the models already examined. My hope is to approach a model of integrated masculine identity from an early naive stage through manifestations of physical, cultural, relativist, and integrated stages of masculine identity (those will not be the actual stage names). I am also hoping to examine the revision to Erickson's identity development stage created by James Marcia (adolescent identity crisis). Here is a brief look at his addition to Erikson's model:

Upon developing a semi-structured interview for identity research, Marcia proposed Identity Status of psychological identity development:

  • Identity Diffusion – the status in which the adolescent does not have a sense of having choices; he or she has not yet made (nor is attempting/willing to make) a commitment
  • Identity Foreclosure – the status in which the adolescent seems willing to commit to some relevant roles, values, or goals for the future. Adolescents in this stage have not experienced an identity crisis. They tend to conform to the expectations of others regarding their future (e. g. allowing a parent to determine a career direction) As such, these individuals have not explored a range of options.
  • Identity Moratorium – the status in which the adolescent is currently in a crisis, exploring various commitments and is ready to make choices, but has not made a commitment to these choices yet.
  • Identity Achievement - the status in which adolescent has gone through a identity crisis and has made a commitment to a sense of identity (i.e. certain role or value) that he or she has chosen

Note that the above status are not stages and should not viewed as a sequential process.

These are the essential outcomes of the adolescent identity crisis, not the sequence of development. Three of these four result in a closed system, i.e., having accepted an identity. Only the "moratorium" position leaves open the possibility of further development, although all of the perspectives (aside from maybe the "diffusion" stance, in which there is no sense of options - think perhaps here of a young conservative Baptist male in a small town in Mississippi, there would be no sense of options, only one way to "be" that is not even chosen, it just is how it's done).

Anyway - I will get Part Three up as soon as possible. I welcome any thoughts readers might want to share. It is my hope to publish this at some point, develop a measure, and then test it's validity in the real world.

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