chapter  6
46 Pages

African-American and European-American Adolescents’ Perceptions of Self-Esteem as Influenced by Parent and Peer Communication and Support Environments

The lengthy research history of sociocultural and identity1 differences between African Americans and European Americans serves as the background to examine the communication influences and issues related to the self-esteem of African-American (or Black) and European American (or White) adolescents. The rationale for the inclusion of this chapter in a book devoted to the family communication of Blacks and Whites rests in its emphasis on those whom are regarded as our future-especially young adults who will inherit adulthood in the near future. In this chapter, the terms adolescent, youth, and students are used interchangeably. Adolescence is viewed as a stage of development and as a circumstance in which certain personal needs are emphasized (Pearl, 1981). The most well-known way that identity theorists have defined and characterized adolescence is from the Eriksonian perspective (see Erickson, 1968). The Eriksonian model emphasizes phases of development throughout the life cycle (from infancy to old age). In the adolescent phase, as in all other phases, “there is a phase-specific developmental task which must be solved by the growingindividual in order to continue in his [sic] psychological maturation” (Hauser, 1971, p. 2). The aspect of Erickson’s conceptualization of interest here is the social aspect-”the society into which the individual is born makes him a member by influencing the manner in which he [sic] solves the tasks posed by

each phase of his [sic] epigenetic development” (quote from Rapport, in Hauser, 1971, p. 2).