Navigating Americanized Identities: Bicultural Ethnicity, Race, and the Incorporation Experience

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This paper reports on the complex ways in which immigrant young adults make sense of their Americanized ethnic and racial identities. The analysis draws on a large set of in-depth interviews (N = 233) collected with immigrants between the ages of 18 and 29 across three regions in the US (California, New York, and Minnesota) in the early 2000s and is in dialogue with emerging new theories of immigrant incorporation which combine the insights of traditional assimilation and racialization frameworks. The identity narratives that emerge from these interviews demonstrate the overarching significance of racial and ethnic identification for young adults across various immigrant communities. The narratives also highlight some of the contextual factors involved in the construction of an ethnic identity in the US such as experiences with discrimination; or the presence of co-ethnic communities. The final substantive section explores how young American immigrants in the transition to adulthood attempt to cultivate hybrid, bicultural identities that balance their American-ness with the ongoing experience of living in a deeply racialized society. The paper concludes by discussing implications for the literature on identity formation and the transition to adulthood as well as on the immigrant incorporation experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-347
Number of pages16
JournalRace and Social Problems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Americanization
  • Assimilation
  • Ethnic identity
  • Immigration
  • Incorporation
  • Race
  • Racism and racialization


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