South Asian Adolescents’ Experiences of Acculturative Stress and Coping

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Despite the significant growth in the South Asian population in the United States over the past 2 decades, the experiences of South Asian adolescents have remained largely invisible. Guided by a socioecological perspective (American Psychological Association, 2012; García Coll & Marks, 2012), this study examined South Asian adolescents’ experiences of acculturative stress and approaches to coping with this stress across home and school contexts. A semistructured interview was completed by 16 participants (9 girls, 7 boys; ages 14–18 years) from different South Asian backgrounds, attending an urban public high school in the Northeastern part of the United States. Conventional content analysis was used to analyze the interview data, and revealed 4 broad categories or domains related to participants’ experiences as young South Asians in the U.S. These domains include the following: (a) Connection to family, community, and heritage; (b) Challenges to acculturation; (c) Stress accompanying the navigation across cultural contexts; and (d) Coping and resilience. Participants’ narratives reflect acculturative stress experienced in home and school contexts which can inhibit psychological well-being and bicultural identity development. The findings have important implications for culturally informed research, intervention, and policy.

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