College of Education

Liberation Lab

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Understanding Belongingness: A Mixed-Methods, Holistic Approach to Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Identity

As key components of social identity, race, ethnicity, and culture yield infinite combinations of unique experiences across every individual. Driving these experiences is an individual’s sense of belonging – a multi-dimensional construct that links the individual to the collective and the collective to the broader social environment. Though a universal need, belonging has yet to be studied within a racial-ethnic-cultural (REC) context. Prior racial, ethnic, and cultural identity studies have separately acknowledged the impact of belonging on identity development and psychosocial adjustment, but scholars are split as to how it should be measured and defined. In this project, we utilize a holistic approach of measurement, combining the overlapping aspects of race, culture, and ethnicity as a broader construct to best capture and understand an individual’s affinity for their community. Through targeted focus groups and online sampling, this study will implement a mixed-methods approach to assess and create the first scale to measure REC belonging.