Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Haitian Americans-Ethnic identity, Group identity, Haitian Americans-Cultural assimilation, Acculturation, Biculturalism, First generation Haitian Americans, Haiti, Immigrants, Creole, Cultural identity formation


This qualitative study explores the factors associated with cultural identity formation among first generation Haitian Americans (FGHA) born in the United States between 1975 and 1990. The purpose of this study is to inform clinical social work practice with immigrants and their families in a range of areas including the experience of cultural identity development and the process and effects of acculturation in the U.S. Audiotaped in-person and telephone semi-structured interviews elicited participant perceptions of, and connection to, a range of aspects of Haitian culture. Participants' experience of dominant U.S. cultural views of Haiti and the Haitian people, understanding of factors associated with their parents' immigration, and early familial, neighborhood and school experiences were also explored. Study findings add to the current literature on factors associated with ethnic identity formation for Haitian Americans in the areas of family structure, proximity to familial immigrants, Haitian community immersion, and the experience of oppression in a historical context of U.S. policy development regarding Haiti and Haitian immigration. A snowball sampling method was employed to recruit a sample of 12 FGHA (male = 4; female = 8; mean age = 26). Participants gave voice to an experience that has rarely had an opportunity to be heard. Qualitative analysis of transcribed interviews revealed the emergence of two overarching themes characterizing participants' cultural identity formation as FGHA: "not Haitian enough/not American enough" and "resilience, coping, and strengthening cultural identity." Implications of these findings for practice, policy, and research are discussed.




iii, 74 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 61-63)