A case study exploring the ethnic identity of sojourners: Saudi mothers and children's perspectives
Qutub, Shahd M
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The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to examine the ethnic identities of Saudi sojourner children who accompanied their parents during their study sojourns in the United States. The research questions investigated Saudi sojourner mothers attitudes towards maintaining the ethnic identity of their children, and their children s perceptions of their Saudi ethnicity while living temporarily in the United States. The study explained children s perceptions of their Saudi ethnicity based on the framework of Social Identity Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Furthermore, the study examined different factors that shape Saudi children s ethnic identities while living in the United States through a lens of the Ecological Systems Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). The sample consisted of six mothers and eleven children who lived in the United States between five and eight years. The children ranged in age from six to twelve years. Both the mothers and their children were interviewed, and the children were asked to draw two pictures of themselves, one in Saudi Arabia and one in the United States. All interview sessions were audio-recoded. The analytical process included analytical memos, transcribing, member checking, and cross-case analysis. The cross-case analysis included two cycles of coding. Three major themes were identified under Saudi sojourner mothers attitudes towards maintaining their children s ethnic identities: privileges, concerns, and factors that shape the ethnic identity of Saudi sojourner children. Also, three major themes were identified under Saudi sojourner children s perceptions of their Saudi ethnicity: sense of belonging, preferences, and friendship. The findings revealed Saudi mothers worries about jeopardy of their children s ethnic identities during their temporary stay in the United States. Mothers attempted to maintain their children s Saudi ethnicities through practicing Saudi rituals in their daily lives such as cooking Saudi food, speaking Arabic, enforcing religious practices, interacting with the local Saudi community, and maintaining strong connections with their extended families. Furthermore, the majority of Saudi sojourner children formed positive views of the Saudi culture and developed multicultural identities, were attached to both Saudi Arabia and the United States, and have developed multicultural identities.