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’White’ ’racial’ identity development : a content analysis of semi-structured interviews Manery, Glen

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to gain a better understanding of the experience of being 'White' in British Columbia. 'White' 'racial' identity development (WRID) theory proposes that 'White' people may develop a positive 'racial' identity that is non-racist. Research has linked the multicultural counselling competencies of a counsellor to her positive 'racial' identity. The American Counselling Association has made it ethically incumbent upon 'White' counsellors to develop a positive, non-racist 'White' 'racial' identity. However, the relationship between 'racial' identity and psychological health is inconclusive and the use of 'race' as a construct in the social sciences is controversial and confounding. WRID research has occurred exclusively in the United States and has only been concerned with attitudes towards 'Blacks.' A qualitative methodology, semi-structured interviews and content analysis were used to explore the nature and existence of WRID in British Columbia. Participants who considered themselves to be 'White' and who have lived or worked in aboriginal communities were recruited. Two computerized programs were used to help in the analysis of the content of the interviews. Participants provided descriptions of "White" culture yet their 'White' 'racial' identities were tenuous. No definitive support was found for the existence of WRID in British Columbia, however support was 'found for parts of theories found in the "racial" identity literature. This information may help counsellors and educators engaged in cross-cultural work.

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