Applying the Master Narrative Framework to Gender Identity Development in Emerging Adulthood

Kate C. McLean, Hannah Shucard, Moin Syed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We applied a novel framework to identity development, capturing both content and process, and personal and cultural components of identity in the content domain of gender. We examined master (and alternative) narratives: ubiquitous, powerful cultural stories with which individuals negotiate in constructing personal identity. Study 1 was a quantitative investigation of personal narratives about gender (n = 245); Study 2 was a qualitative study of discourse processes concerning gender roles (n = 12). Employing three approaches to identity development (status, narrative, and discursive) in a mixed methods design, we found that most individuals position themselves around a newer, alternative narrative about gender equality. However, in social interactions, this narrative got less airtime, in favor of narratives representing either traditional views or gender equality. Further, those who were exploring their identities were more likely to employ the less traditional narrative, suggesting a link between changing master narratives and personal identity exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • emerging adulthood
  • gender identity
  • identity development
  • master narratives


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