The Problem of the Marginal Man

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-09-13 01:53Z by Steven

The Problem of the Marginal Man

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 41, Number 1 (July 1935)
Pages 1-12
DOI: 10.1086/217001

Everett V. Stonequist (1901-1979), Professor of Sociology
Skidmore College

The marginal man arises in a bi-cultural or multi-cultural situation.  The natural desire of the mixed-blood is to advance toward the group occupying the higher status.  He may be forced to accept the status of the lower group, possibly becoming their leader.  He may be rejected by both groups.  Where accommodation, rather than conflict, prevails, the mixed blood may constitute a middle class.  With intermarriage the mixed-blood approximates more nearly the status of the dominate race.  The marginal individual experiences what [W. E. B.] Du Bois has analyzed as “double consciousness.”  It is as if he regarded himself through two looking-glasses presenting clashing images.  The marginal individual passes through a life-cycle:  introduction to the two cultures, crisis, and adjustment.  The natural history involves an initial phase with a small group of marginal individuals who are ahead of the minority.  This group increases, and a movement develops having as a goal some kind of equality and independence.  The final outcome may be a new social framework; if assimilation is facilitated, the minority may be incorporated into the dominant group, or become the dominant group, and the cycle ends…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Multiracial Self-Identification and Adolescent Outcomes: A Social Psychological Approach to the Marginal Man Theory

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-01-18 00:06Z by Steven

Multiracial Self-Identification and Adolescent Outcomes: A Social Psychological Approach to the Marginal Man Theory

Social Forces
Volume 88, Number 1 (September 2009)
ISSN: 1534-7605 Print ISSN: 0037-7732
DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0243

Simon Cheng, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Connecticut

Kathryn J. Lively, Associate Professor, Sociology
Dartmouth College

Recent public health research has consistently reported that self-identified multiracial adolescents tend to display more problem behaviors and psychological difficulties than monoracial adolescents. Relying on insights from qualitative analyses using small or clinical samples to interpret these empirical patterns, these studies implicitly assume a pejorative stance toward adolescents’ multiracial self-identification. Building on the social psychological arguments underlying [Robert] Park’s and [Everett V.] Stonequist’s seminal discussions of the “marginal man,” we derive hypotheses indicating that self-identified multiracial adolescents may show more psychological difficulties, but are also likely to have more active social interaction and participation than monoracial groups. We also incorporate later elaborations of the marginal man theory to develop alternative hypotheses regarding multiracial youth’s school and behavioral outcomes. Based on a nationally representative sample of racially self-identified youth, the results suggest that patterns of multiracial-monoracial differences are generally consistent with the hypotheses derived closely from the marginal man theory or its subsequent elaborations. We examine the heterogeneities within these general patterns across different multiracial categories and discuss the implications of these findings.

Read the entire article here.

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Marginal Man

Posted in Definitions, Social Science on 2009-08-23 04:13Z by Steven

A ‘Marginal Man’ is a fictional archetype created in 1927 by sociologist Robert Ezra Park (1864-1944) (and further developed by Everett Stonequist (1901-1979)) as a way  to describe a person descended from two “opposing” ethnic or racial groups.  He stated, “The marginal man…is one whom fate has condemned to live in two societies and in two, not merely different but antagonistic cultures….his mind is the crucible in which two different and refractory cultures may be said to melt and, either wholly or in part, fuse.”   The arc for ‘Marginal Man’ was similar to that of  the ‘Tragic Mulatto‘ because he too, attempted to “pass” as white, however he could change course and take a hypodescendent path and if he were fortunate become a leader of his “lesser” lot.

See, Everett V. Stonequist’s July 1935 article “The Problem of the Marginal Man.”