The Importance of Ethnic Identity and Well-being in the Lives of Third- Generation British Bangladeshi People
Rationale and Aims: Ethnic Identity (EI) refers to the extent to which an individual identifies with their cultural group (Phinney, 2000) and has been widely documented as being beneficial for well-being (Smith and Silva, 2011; Umaña-Taylor, 2011). EI can be especially beneficial for ethnic minority populations, such as British Bangladeshis, who are at risk of a complex, largely undocumented negotiation of identities and stressors related to cultural adjustment in Britain (Eade, 1994). However, some research suggests the opposite effect: namely, that high levels of EI may actually increase vulnerability to distress when faced with discrimination, especially when considering populations that face intersectional disadvantages. A systematic review of the literature regarding British Bangladeshi identity and well-being revealed that there are currently no documented experiences of third-generation British Bangladeshi adults. Furthermore, no peer reviewed qualitative research has explicitly considered EI and well-being in the British Bangladeshi population. Hence the aim of this study was to understand the importance of EI and well-being in third-generation British Bangladeshi adults. Methods/Analysis: A qualitative design was employed where semi-structured interviews were conducted on 15 third-generation British Bangladeshi participants. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006), within a Critical Realist epistemology. Findings: Three main themes were identified: Theme 1 – “Oh my God, I’m different” being “made to feel” like an outsider in Britain. Theme 2 – “You’re a coconut” being “made to feel” like an outsider within the British Bangladeshi community. Theme 3 – “A proper sense of belonging”. Participants discussed their experiences of feeling like an outsider, due to a multitude of factors e.g. race, religion, cultural practices and gender norms. At times their strategy for survival involved trying to behave in ways that they perceived as synonymous with being ‘White British’ in professional and public spaces. Multiple challenges also appear to be faced whilst trying to engage with their own community. Despite these challenges, participants talked through connecting with elements of their Bangladeshi and Islamic heritage that has enabled a sense of belonging at a number of different stages within varying contexts and moments in their lives. Implications: Findings are discussed in relation to existing literature and theoretical models. Implications for clinical psychological research and practice, methodological considerations and suggestions for future research are also discussed.
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