American identity in the USA: Youth perspectives

Authors: 
Parissa Jahromi
Publication Year: 
2011
Publication name or Publisher: 
Applied Developmental Science, 15(2), 79-93. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2011.560811

National identity, how one sees oneself as a member of a given nation, is an important form of social identity. Feelings toward one's country are a matter of both individual and collective concern. In an increasingly diverse world, the issue of identifying with a nation is complex and consequential for individual identity formation as well as collective political identity. How do young people think about what it means to be an American in the United States of America today? Using an in-depth interview approach, I investigate youth experiences in micro-contexts, the local contexts in which young people have concrete experiences that inform their developing identities, to illuminate important elements of the multiple pathways to American identity. Results point toward specific experiences that affect how young people form American identity: attachments to the ideals of America, the mismatch between American ideals and reality, experiences with diversity, opportunities for civic and political participation, and ideas about concepts such as the American dream.