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Title: The development of social identity in children
Author: Quinn, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 5855
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2010
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Social Identity Theory (SIT) (Tajfel & Turner 1979) is a widely accepted theoretical perspective on intergroup behaviour in adults. SIT, however, does not take account of the development of prejudice in children. Plethoras of research have investigated the development of this social construct in children. Given the unique social and political situation, many studies have focused on prejudice and in-group awareness in Northern Ireland. There remains, however, a lack of consensus regarding the age at which prejudice develops in children. Therefore this research study aimed to investigate if there was a consensus among children, young people, parents and teachers as to what age children become aware of their social identity in terms of ethnic/religious group affiliation and when this becomes salient. A mixed methods approach, incorporating questionnaires, focus groups and a quasi-experimental design was employed. The questionnaire participants included a convenience sample of Catholic and Protestant parents (97), teachers (74) and young people (221) and the focus groups comprised parents (15), teachers (12) and young people (22) from mixed ethnic/religious groups. The quasi- experiment involved 201 children, aged 7-11 years, from Maintained and Controlled schools. Results indicated a general consensus amongst parents, teachers and young people; children become aware of their social identity between 8.4 and 8.9 years, and social identity becomes salient between 10.6 and 11.7 years. One third of young people felt that social identity never becomes a salient issue. Interestingly, although Protestant children displayed a significant in-group preference, the Catholic children did not. Protestant children also rated the out-group artist higher than the Catholic children. In conclusion, this study would provide evidence to support the notion that prejudice in children in Northern Ireland is not as prevalent as some might suggest and not all children brought up in a divided society necessarily develop prejudiced attitudes towards the out-group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available