Developing and negotiating multiple social identities is the central task of adolescence, one that continues well into young adulthood. Social identities, such as one’s ethnic, racial, religious, and/or legal status identities, are rooted in social groupings and reflect how youth make sense of themselves in relation to others and the broader society. Immigrant youth often live transnational lives—they may maintain ties to their country of origin, yet presently live in new and often confusing communities. My work on the multiple identities of immigrant youth examines these identities in action.
For most marginalized youth, especially immigrant youth who live in the midst of multiple frames of reference, this cultural pluralism does not inevitably produce identity incoherence. Rather, in contrast to many current theories, our research has found that multiple frames of reference may act as a resource that serve as a point of entry into youths’ rapidly pluralizing worlds (Katsiaficas, Futch, Fine & Sirin, 2011). In many cases, it has been necessary to develop innovative methodology appropriate for studying the dynamic multiplicity by which young people embody and reflect upon the multifaceted development of their lives in context. We have utilized both oral and visual narratives such as qualitative interviews, and various forms of mapping such as identity maps (Fine, Katsiaficas, Sirin & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2012; Sirin, Katsiaficas & Volpe, 2010) and family maps (Katsiaficas et al., 2016) to this end.